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Friday, January 29, 2016

A virus named “Zika” is capturing headlines, in part because it’s believed to be linked to tragic birth defects in Brazil and other tropical countries in the Americas. We regularly monitor for new risks and, though Zika isn’t a public health emergency directly affecting Tufts, we want to share some important points you should still know.

The mosquito Aedes aegypti is believed to transmit the Zika virus. Photograph by CDC/ Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Dir., Cntr. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Notre Dame.

The mosquito Aedes aegypti is believed to transmit the Zika virus. Photograph by CDC/ Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Dir., Cntr. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Notre Dame.

What You Should Know

The current Zika transmission is occurring in countries in South America and Central America, and isn’t currently known to be spreading within the continental United States. You could be exposed if you plan to travel to an affected area, and currently the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that women who are pregnant consider postponing travel to areas where Zika transmission is ongoing.

While it is important to pay attention to emerging risks, make sure you’re also informed of more common risks that are not in the news, such as dengue fever, a disease transmitted by the same mosquito that’s believed to transmit Zika that causes such debilitating pain that it is nicknamed “breakbone fever”.

What You Can Do

  1. Register your university-related travel
    Travel registration ensures that you have access to the latest information on risks and safety strategies for your destination, whether it’s an emerging infectious disease, a nearby volcano, or potential civil unrest. Visit finance.tufts.edu/controller/risk-management/international-travel.
  2. Talk with your physician
    Health risks for travelers vary around the world. Talk with your physician, who can best know about your current health to advise you on the impact of travel, and who may refer you to a travel specialist or clinic. Make sure to plan ahead and visit early before your departure. If special vaccinations are recommended, they should be completed at least 2 weeks before departure in order to give them time to be effective.

Remember that what’s in the news is inherently “newsworthy” because it’s novel and/or rare. Avail yourself of trusted sources of information, such as the Tufts international travel registration process, to make sure you’re prepared for safe, enjoyable travel.

For the latest information on Zika virus visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov/zika.

Tufts resources: