Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
March 10, 2017

Contact
Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9356
leah.bucco-white@nebraska.gov

Students Traveling for Spring Break Encouraged to
Protect Themselves from Mosquitoes

Note: Sound bites on this topic are available at www.dhhs.ne.gov/audio
 
Lincoln – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is reminding students traveling during spring break to prevent mosquito bites if they’re going to areas or countries with active Zika virus. Zika has spread to more than 60 countries and territories worldwide including some popular spring break destinations such as Mexico and Puerto Rico. In the United States, local transmission of Zika has been reported in Florida and Texas.  Additionally, other mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue and chikungunya are in many of the same areas as Zika.

“The first step is to find out if your spring break destination is a Zika-affected area and if it is, be sure to take precautions to protect yourself from mosquitoes,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “Travelers who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant in the near future should postpone their trip unless absolutely necessary.”

Proper mosquito prevention includes:
  • Using and EPA-registered insect repellent properly
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Staying in places with air conditioning or that have screens on doors and windows

For the latest list of travel advisories, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/. For more information about what to do before, during and after a trip to a Zika-affected area, go to https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/plan-for-travel.html.

So far, there have been 4,813 travel-related cases of Zika virus and 221 locally acquired in the United States. In Nebraska, 14 travel-related cases have been identified. The primary mosquito (Aedes aegypti) that transmits Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses is found in tropical areas and the southern U.S., but is not established in Nebraska.
 
Zika virus is primarily spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no evidence that the virus can be spread from person to person through casual contact, but it can be spread through sexual contact.  Eighty percent of people infected with the Zika virus do not have any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they are often mild, lasting from several days to a week, and include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes) and headache. While severe disease requiring hospitalization can occur it’s uncommon. Zika can also cause birth defects such as microcephaly in babies of mothers who were infected with the Zika virus while pregnant. Microcephaly is a rare condition where a baby’s head is smaller than expected.   

For more information about Zika virus, visit http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/zika or http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.
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