About Us: The Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University
Zika Virus in Latin America

January 25, 2016

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a travel alert for people traveling to regions and countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The CDC describes Zika as:

  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week
  • Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon
  • Deaths are rare

However, the Zika virus has also been linked to increases in microcephaly cases, which cause underdeveloped brains in infants. At this point, the CDC advises that pregnant women, and women trying to get pregnant, consider postponing their travel to these regions.

For the average traveler like students preparing to study abroad, the risk seems to be similar to other vector borne diseases in the region, such as dengue or chikungunya. The best advice for students is to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or IR3535. Always use as directed. Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin and IR3535 are safe for pregnant and nursing women and children older than two months when used according to the product label. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under three years of age.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents)
  • Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms

We will continue to monitor this situation and provide any relevant updates. The full CDC warning can be found here:

Centers for Disease Control

Please contact Eryn Espín-Kudzinski, Director of Health, Safety and Security with any questions or concerns.

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