What you need to know before visiting an area where Zika is prevalent

What you need to know before visiting an area where Zika is prevalent

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - On Monday, the eighth case of a Mississippian contracting Zika was confirmed by the Mississippi State Department of Health. According to officials, all have been travel-related cases. Due to summer vacations and mission trips that happen during the summer months, officials said this comes as no surprise to them. In fact, they expect the numbers to go up.

Here's what you should keep in mind if you plan on traveling to areas affected by Zika virus like Central America, South America, the Caribbean and Mexico:

  • If you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, don't travel to Zika affected countries.
  • If you go and contract Zika your unborn child could contract devastating birth defects including microcephaly.
  • If you are going to go, use EPA registered insect repellent with deet.
  • Despite the warm climates, you'll want to wear long sleeves and pants while outdoors.
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes are prevalent.
  • Use netting over your bed, or stay at a place with windows and air conditioning.

If you travel to areas where Zika is prevalent, when you return home, take precautions since most Zika infections are a-symptomatic with only 20 percent of cases showing symptoms.

"It's best to assume that you were infected so that you can take the right sexual precautions. And that would be if you come back and your partner is pregnant, then you should use condoms during the entire duration of your partner's pregnancy," said Mississippi State Department of Health Director of Office of Communications Liz Sharlot.

She also said if a man travels to an area where Zika is prevalent, he should use condoms during intercourse for at least two to six months, whether or not he shows symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis.

Keep in mind, your chances of contracting Zika are higher during the day since the mosquitoes that carry the virus are considered day biters.

The most recent cases occurred while Mississippians traveled to St. Thomas, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

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