Guest blog by Katie White, Arkansas Department of Health
Wedding venue? Check. The perfect dress? Check. Destination honeymoon plans? Check. Almost everyone preparing for a wedding has some sort of checklist that guides their decision making. You prepare for anything and everything, but when you book your destination honeymoon, are you preparing for Zika?
As a 24-year-old, many of my closest friends are engaged and planning for their weddings. As an employee of the Arkansas Department of Health, many of these friends have turned to me for advice on preparing for their honeymoon travels with Zika in mind.
Zika is a virus spread mainly by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, but it can also be transmitted sexually. The virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and it can cause serious birth defects, miscarriage, or death of the infant. The risk to babies is high, and travelers should take precautions to avoid infection.
I know my friends, and many other Arkansans, think of tropical destinations when they think honeymoon or vacation, and many tropical vacation spots are affected by ongoing Zika virus transmission. You can learn which areas are affected on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
If you are pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, you should choose a travel location that does not have active Zika transmission. About half of the pregnancies here in Arkansas are unplanned, so those who are not pregnant should use effective birth control, like an IUD or implant, to prevent pregnancy during and after travel to affected areas.
If you choose to travel to an area where Zika is active, you can plan for your trip with these tips in mind to prevent infection.
- Use an EPA-approved insect repellent during your trip to prevent mosquito bites and for 3 weeks after your return to prevent the potential spread of infection.
- Keep mosquitoes outside by staying in places with air conditioning and window/door screens.
- Protect yourself during sex by wearing a condom to prevent sexual transmission, both during your trip and after. For specific guidelines on the amount of time you need to protect yourself, click here.
If you have symptoms of Zika, such as fever, headache, red eyes or joint pain, after you return from your trip, see your doctor. If you become pregnant, and have recently visited an affected area, you should see your doctor even with no symptoms present.
You want your honeymoon or vacation to be fun and relaxing. Plan ahead and pack to prevent Zika so you can have a happy and healthy honeymoon.
Learn more about the Zika virus by visiting www.healthy.arkansas.gov.