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Q: What's your general advice on the Zika virus?

On January 15, 2016, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) upgraded their Zika virus travel health notice to "Alert Level 2", (Practice Enhanced Precautions) with specific affected areas of the Caribbean and Central and South America.  You may have received or seen previous communication providing this information.  As of January 26th, the CDC notice now includes the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the affected areas.  For the most up-to-date information on the Zika virus and countries affected, please visit the website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

Zika virus is spread primarily through mosquitoes, which mainly bite during daytime hours. It is not transmitted from person to person. Symptoms of Zika typically develop 3-12 days after being bitten and may include fever, headache, skin rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from 2-7 days and most people who contract Zika experience no symptoms at all. Comprehensive health information can be found athttp://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.

There has been a recent increase in poor pregnancy outcomes among mothers who contracted Zika during pregnancy. These cases are being reported in areas where Zika virus outbreaks have occurred. Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is still developing. For this reason, the CDC Advisory particularly impacts women who are pregnant and women who are trying to become pregnant.

The CDC advisory recommends that women who are pregnant in any trimester consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If pregnant women do opt to travel to Zika affected areas, the CDC recommends talking to their healthcare provider in advance and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during their trip. Specific guidance for women who are trying to become pregnant is also included in the CDC advisory. More information can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html.

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika Fever however individuals can reduce their risk of contracting Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses by following these steps prior to going ashore:

  • Apply insect repellent which contains one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin (KBR 3023), Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus/PMD, or IR3535.
  • If both sunscreen and insect repellent is used, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
  • Wear a loose, long-sleeved shirt and long pants, preferably of a light color to minimize the likelihood of being bitten.

Should you experience any symptoms of fever, headache, skin rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes) while sailing with us, please contact the ship's doctor or their own doctor if they have already returned home. Please inform your healthcare provider about your recent travel.

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