Venturing to areas where the Zika virus has become more prevalent continues to be a concern for some travelers, particularly those who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant imminently. If you are considering a cruise for this winter, you may be going to one of the areas with locally transmitted cases of Zika, including Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America to some of the South Pacific islands.
Zika is usually a mild illness: the majority of people who get it don’t even notice any symptoms. About 20 percent of infected people experience a mild fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, headache or muscle ache. The illness typically resolves itself within a week.
For most people, Zika poses little to no risk. However, for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, it’s a different story. There is a link between Zika in a mother and congenital birth defects in their children, including microcephaly (being born with an unusually small head as a result of incomplete brain development). That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised that pregnant women and women actively trying to become pregnant postpone travel to regions affected by Zika.
For all other travelers, it is important not to be fearful, but to be educated about Zika, how it’s transmitted, and how to protect yourself.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus, meaning a bite from an infected mosquito can transfer the virus to the person being bitten. Also, it’s now known that the virus can be passed between sexual partners.
There’s no vaccine for Zika, but you can protect yourself. To protect yourself against mosquitos, use an insect repellent that contains DEET, picardin or IR3535: these ingredients are considered safe and effective for pregnant women, too. Spray your clothes and exposed skin.
Take your repellent along on shore excursions so that you can reapply it as often as recommended. To avoid mosquitos, choose excursions that are mostly indoors or on air-conditioned buses.
After traveling to a Zika zone, the CDC suggests waiting before trying to conceive a child: for women, the recommended wait is two months; for men, six months.
Finally, if you’ve booked a cruise but wish to cancel due to Zika concerns, talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert: some cruise lines are offering to rebook guests on a cruise away from Zika zones, or to reschedule for a later date.
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