University Health Services warns travelers of mosquito-borne illnesses

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As students, faculty and staff prepare to leave for spring break, University Health Services warns of the ongoing transmission of Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses currently circulating in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean and a few Pacific islands. 

Mosquitoes, most commonly the Aedes aegypti species, typically transmit these viruses. While the greatest health concerns from the Zika virus at this time are related to pregnancy, chikungunya and dengue can cause significant illness in many who contract the virus.

Pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy in the near future are encouraged to postpone travel to Zika outbreak areas.

The following tips are offered to those traveling to outbreak areas:

  • Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to prevent these infections. The mosquito spreading these viruses is an aggressive daytime biter and tends to live and breed in locations near to humans. Use of EPA-registered insect repellents will help to prevent bites.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when outside. Clothing and gear treated with permethrin can help prevent bites.
  • Anyone who has traveled to the areas listed and develops two or more of these symptoms — fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis — should contact a health care provider for evaluation.
  • Although less than 20 percent of people infected with Zika will develop symptoms, the virus may still be transmitted through semen. Men who travel to Zika outbreak areas are advised to either abstain from sexual activity or use condoms consistently and correctly during every sexual encounter while traveling and after returning.
Last Updated March 01, 2016