LITTLE ROCK – While a mission trip is a time to serve, experience new cultures, meet new people and build lasting friendships and memories – it is important to protect yourself from viruses such as Zika, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).
Zika is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Zika can also be transmitted sexually. The virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and can cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly, which affects a baby’s brain development.
Mission trips can lead you to many different destinations across the globe. Zika shouldn’t prohibit anyone from sharing the gospel with the world, but it is important to be safe and knowledgeable about its effects and dangers, according to the ADH. When preparing for your trip, research your destination to learn if there is ongoing Zika transmission.
If you are visiting an affected area, the best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites by using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
It is recommended that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika. If travel is necessary, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent infection. If your partner has traveled to an affected area, take necessary steps for the duration of your pregnancy to prevent transmission, which can occur for up to six months after infection.
If you have been to an area affected by Zika, it is important to take measures to prevent mosquito bites for at least three weeks after you return home to prevent the spread of Zika to local mosquitoes. If a local mosquito becomes infected, it could spread Zika to someone else.
Symptoms of Zika are typically mild, and roughly 80 percent of people infected with Zika will not have any symptoms. The most common symptoms are: fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain and headache. If you have questions before traveling, or believe you may have become infected while traveling, talk to your doctor.
Visit the ADH website at www.healthy.arkansas.gov for more information. Visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika to search for areas with risk of Zika.