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Returning from Rio? What you should know about Zika virus

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Posted at 11:08 AM, Aug 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-22 13:08:45-04

SALT LAKE CITY — If you’ve traveled to Brazil or another country affected by Zika virus, there are a few precautions you should take to help reduce the potential spread of the virus.

According to the Utah Department of Health, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika virus should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks. Preventive measures include using insect repellent with DEET and removing mosquito breeding areas from around homes.

Zika can also be passed through sexual contact from a person with the virus to his or her sexual partners. The virus can be transmitted sexually whether or not the infected person has ever had symptoms.

A news release from the health department said most people who have the Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only show mild symptoms, such as fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. There is neither a vaccine to prevent Zika virus, nor a specific medical treatment for those who are infected.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends special precautions for the following groups:

  • Women who are pregnant:
    • If you have a partner who lives in or has traveled to Brazil or any other Zika-affected area, either use condoms (or other barriers to prevent infection) or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.
  • Women who are trying to become pregnant:
    • Before you or your partner travel or after returning from a Zika-affected area, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
    • Recommendations for people who DO NOT live in an area with Zika virus and had possible exposure through recent travel or unprotected sex with a man infected with Zika virus:
      • Zika Symptoms – Wait at least 6 months after your symptoms start before trying to get pregnant.
      • No Zika Symptoms – Wait at least 8 weeks after you may have been exposed to Zika before trying to get pregnant.

A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus, which may result in sever birth defects, such as microcephaly (small head and brain) and other defects. Infection during pregnancy can also increase the chance for miscarriage, eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth, the health department said.

The health department urges women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant and have questions about Zika virus, please contact the MotherToBaby program at 1-800-822-2229, text 855-999-3525,  chat live or email www.MotherToBaby.org or visit http://health.utah.gov/zika