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East County News Service

August 2, 2017 (San Diego) -- Summer is underway and if you plan on travelling, you should follow these eight tips from the County of San Diego to protect yourself and your loved ones from the Zika virus.

Zika is now found in nearly all South American and Central American countries as well as Mexico, the Caribbean, much of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. (View map)  The Centers for Disease Control also list Florida and Texas as areas of risk in the U.S.

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, do not travel to Zika-impacted areas and talk to your doctor or health care provider about your travel plans.

Before booking and again before traveling, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest travel recommendations.

During your trip, protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellent and appropriate clothing.

Keep mosquitoes out and stay in places with air conditioning and with window and door screens. Use a bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.

Protect yourself by abstaining from intercourse or using condoms while traveling and after you return,  since Zika can be transmitted through sex.  Condoms should be used for at least 6 months if a man traveled to a Zika area and for at least 8 weeks if a woman traveled to a region with Zika risk.  If a woman is pregnant and either partner was in a Zika region, condoms should be used for the entire pregnancy.

After your trip, if you’ve been to a Zika-impacted area, protect yourself from mosquito bites for three weeks, even if you do not feel sick. If a mosquito bites you and you are carrying the Zika virus, it can transmit the virus to other people in our community.  Keep mosquitoes out of your home, dump standing water in which they can breed, use insect repellent, and wear appropriate clothing.

See your doctor or health care professional if you develop symptoms of Zika and you’ve travelled to a place with risk of the virus. Let your doctor know about your travel.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, County public health officer says, “By following these steps, you can help us keep Zika from spreading in our community.”  She adds, “No local mosquito-transmitted cases of Zika have occurred in California or San Diego County, and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way.”

Since the epidemic in the Americas began in Brazil in 2015, the County Health and Human Services Agency has been very busy testing specimens of patients who traveled to Zika-impacted areas. Nearly 2,350 local referrals have been tested in the Public Health Lab.

Of the people tested for Zika in San Diego, 1,866 cases were determined not to be Zika and 94 were found to be confirmed or probable Zika cases, including one sexually transmitted case and a baby born with a birth defect. Nine of the cases were reported in 2017. For more information about Zika, visit SDFightTheBite.com.

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