Erring on the side of caution, Indonesia has taken a number of preventive measures against the Zika virus after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of the disease a global emergency. The country has had a limited history of Zika infections that date back to 1978 and 1981 with some new apparent cases throughout the country although Health-e cannot confirm the prevalence of the disease or the rate of infection in Indonesia.
Should you be concerned? Here are three fast facts about Zika:
- There is no vaccine yet to prevent the virus disease.
- Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.
- Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
When travelling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, take the following steps (the same precautions you would take right here in Bali against dengue):
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants as much as possible.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness. Always follow the product label instructions.
- Re-apply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
If you have a baby or child:
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
Adults, take these precautions:
- Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
- Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
- Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
Q&A from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) relating to the Zika virus infection and pregnancy
I am pregnant. Should I travel to a country where cases of Zika have been reported?
Until more is known, the CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:
Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor first and strictly follow steps to avoid bites during the trip.
Women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult their doctor before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
Is it safe to use an insect repellent if I am pregnant or nursing?
Yes. Using an insect repellent is safe and effective. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding can and should choose insect repellents and use it according to the product label.
If a woman who is not pregnant is bitten by a mosquito and infected with Zika virus, will her future pregnancies be at risk?
The CDC does not know the risk to the infant if a woman is infected with Zika virus while she is pregnant. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for only a few days to a week. The virus will not cause infections in an infant that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood. There is currently no evidence that Zika virus infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies. A women contemplating pregnancy, who has recently recovered from Zika virus infection, should consult her healthcare provider after recovering.
Should a pregnant woman who traveled to an area with Zika virus be tested for the virus?
See your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks after traveling to a country where Zika virus cases have been reported. Be sure to tell your health care provider where you traveled.
Can a previous Zika virus infection cause someone who later becomes pregnant to have an infant with microcephaly?
The CDC does not know the risk to the baby if a woman is infected with Zika virus while she is pregnant. However, Zika virus infection does not pose a risk of birth defects for future pregnancies. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week. The virus will not cause infections in a baby that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood.
Is it safe to get pregnant after traveling to a country with Zika virus?
If infected, Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week. The virus will not cause infections in a baby that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood.
Can a pregnant woman be tested for Zika weeks or months after being in a country with Zika?
At this time the CDC does not recommend routine Zika virus testing in pregnant women who have traveled to a country with known transmission. First, there can be false-positive results due to antibodies that are made against other related viruses. Second, the CDC does not know the risk to the fetus if the mother tests positive for Zika virus antibodies. The CDC does not know if the risk is different in mothers who do or do not have symptoms due to Zika virus infection.
If a woman who has traveled to an area with Zika virus transmission, should she wait to get pregnant?
The CDC does not know the risk to an infant if a woman is infected with Zika virus while she is pregnant. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for only a few days to a week. The virus will not cause infections in an infant that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood. There is currently no evidence that Zika virus infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.