July 20, 2016

Advisory warning for travelers going to the Olympics

From Oregon Health Authority



*Most travelers should take precautions, but pregnant women should not go*

The Oregon Health Authority is recommending those traveling to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro take steps during and after travel to prevent Zika infection.

Zika is a virus usually spread through bites from two types of Aedes mosquitoes, but it can spread from infected men to their partners through sexual contact. New evidence suggests that women may be able to transmit Zika to their sexual partners as well. Pregnant women are advised to not travel to the games or any Zika-affected area.

"Pregnant women should not go to any Zika-affected area because of the potential for serious effects on their babies," said Suzanne Zane, maternal and child health epidemiologist in the OHA Public Health Division. Zika can cause birth defects including microcephaly, in which the brain and head of an infant are smaller than usual.

"Even women who are not trying to get pregnant should protect themselves from Zika during travel because half of pregnancies are unplanned," Zane said.

Zika is spreading in Brazil and throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of the South Pacific. Mosquitos known to carry Zika live in the U.S., but not yet in Oregon. It is unknown if the types of mosquito found in Oregon could spread Zika.

People who have a Zika infection often do not show symptoms. Those with Zika symptoms may have rash, fever, joint pain and redness of the eyes. Symptoms are usually mild. See your doctor if you travel to the games or other Zika-affected areas and develop symptoms.

Travelers can prevent Zika and accidental infection of a baby during pregnancy. Those heading to the games should protect themselves from mosquito bites during travel and for three weeks after they return. Women should delay pregnancy for eight weeks after travel, or eight weeks after symptoms start. Men should avoid sex or use a condom for eight weeks after travel, or six months after symptoms start.

All people attending the games who have a pregnant partner should avoid sex or use a condom during any sexual activity for the entire pregnancy. Anyone needing low- to no-cost family planning and birth control services can find information by dialing 211.

Helpful links:
-- OHA Zika virus updates: http://www.healthoregon.org/zika
-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Zika virus page:http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
-- CDC information for specific groups: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/specific-groups.html
-- CDC Zika travel information: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information

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