As we are sure you have heard, the Zika virus is spreading rapidly across South America. Zika is a mosquito-borne viral infection which is transmitted by the same type of mosquito linked to dengue and chikungunya.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a state of emergency this week and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a travel alert for those traveling to affected regions.
However, please be sure to advise your clients of the following facts, to help them make their travel decisions:
Symptoms can include mild fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain and general feeling of illness that begins 2-7 days after infection.
Four out of five people who are infected have no symptoms at all.
Recent studies show there is a correlation between the disease and increased number of cases of microcephaly (reduced brain size) in unborn babies.
If you are not a woman of childbearing age who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant, the Zika virus is unlikely to cause you any serious trouble.
Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week. The virus will not affect a baby that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood.
Zika cannot be transmitted through the air, food or water.
There have been no deaths so far attributed to the Zika virus.
Infected persons are advised to drink water and rest. Hospitalization as a result of Zika is extremely uncommon. In Brazil the current spread of Zika virus is mostly concentrated in the Northeastern states, especially Pernambuco state.
Areas to the south such as Rio and Sao Paulo are currently much less affected. Very few cases have been reported in the Amazon and Foz do Iguaçu.
Nevertheless the precautions for travelling to a region with mosquitoes are important:
Use plenty of mosquito repellant.
Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
Sleep under a mosquito bed net.
On a personal note, very little has changed in the routine of our families and of the travel patterns of Brazilians within the country.
People remain travelling, with the exception of pregnant woman who have doubled their precautions against mosquitoes.
We remain at your disposal for any further information and are keeping close tabs on the situation and will send another email should the conditions or knowledge about the disease change over the coming months.
The Matueté Team