The Zika Virus: What You Need to Know When You’re Traveling to Puerto Rico

Zika VIrusOver the last year, the Zika virus epidemic has been cause for alarm for travelers worldwide. Currently, Zika virus outbreaks are occurring in many countries throughout North America, South America, Africa and Asia and the Pacific Islands. In the United States and U.S. territories, from January 2015 to present there have been 16,832 reported cases of the virus. At the present time, there is no known medication or vaccine for the prevention of the Zika virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Zika virus is spread primarily through the bite of mosquitoes, but can also be passed through sexual contact and from a pregnant mother to her infant. While many people infected with Zika virus don’t get sick or have minimal symptoms (can include fever, red eyes, joint pain, headache and rash), there are some people who develop Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which can cause muscle weakness and paralysis.

Of particular concern are women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant who are exposed to Zika virus. The CDC states that pregnant woman are able to pass the virus to their fetus, and that infection can cause serious birth defects, which can include microcephaly and other brain malformations. As a result, the CDC has warned that women who are pregnant should not travel to Puerto Rico, or have sexual contact with anyone who lives in or has traveled to Puerto Rico.

Men, and women who do not plan to become pregnant, should know that traveling to Puerto Rico has not been banned, but the CDC has placed travel on Level 2 Alert, and advises travelers to practice enhanced precautions. They provide a detailed listing of what travelers can do to prevent Zika, which includes:

  • Mosquito Bite Prevention: Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to cover exposed skin. Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 as directed, and use clothing and gear that has been treated with the pesticide permethrin. Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens that prevent entry of mosquitoes, and sleep under a mosquito net if AC or screened rooms are unavailable. Babies should be covered in mosquito netting whenever outdoors or exposed to possible bites.
  • Sexual Transmission: Use condoms or avoid sex while traveling. Even if you don’t feel sick, when you return to the U.S. take preventive measures for at least eight weeks upon returning home. If you are a man or woman positively diagnosed with Zika, you should use condoms for at least 6 months from the onset of symptom. If you traveled to Puerto Rico and your partner at home is pregnant, you should use condoms or avoid sex for the duration of the pregnancy.

We want all travelers visiting us at Maria’s to have a safe, enjoyable time in Puerto Rico. At our luxury resort, all windows and doors are equipped with screens, and the villa is air conditioned with ceiling fans throughout. Our booking is done through Island West Properties, Maria’s rental and onsite management. Please visit our booking page on this website to view the availability of Maria’s and fill out our convenient contact form. If you have any additional questions regarding Maria’s, you may call Island West Properties at 787-823-2323.