The Zika Virus

Like all newly emerging mosquito-related illnesses, the Zika virus has been the cause of concern for everyone traveling to the affected areas in South America and the Caribbean.  With the safety of trip participants in mind, we sat down with Dr. Mavunda, head doctor at the International Travel Clinic, to learn more about the Zika virus.

Zika virus is carried by the Aedes mosquito and symptoms include fever, joint pain, red eyes, and rash. The illness is classified as “mild” with symptoms lasting up to a week, and is only of serious concern for pregnant women. Unlike the flu, the virus cannot be spread from person-to-person contact.

Although we have never had a participant contract any mosquito viruses while on a trip, we are still advising our volunteers to take precaution against all mosquito bites in general, as they can also transmit Dengue fever and Chikungunya.  Dr. Mavunda recommends the best way to mitigate the risk of contraction is to limit exposure to mosquito bites. Trip leaders will be enforcing the use of bug sprays, long sleeves and pants, and mosquito nets around sleeping areas.

The most effective repellents include those that contain deet or picaridin:

·       Off! Deepwoods 8

·       Sawyer Fisherman’s Formula Picaridin

·       Natrapel 8 Hour

·       Repel Lemon Eucalyptus

The safety of our volunteers is our first priority, and we will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure a fun and healthy experience for everyone traveling with us this summer.