Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites after returning home from your travels abroad to avoid the spread of Zika to your hometown mosquito population.

Zika seems to be everywhere, especially where people like to travel. It’s all over the Caribbean, South and Central America, Mexico, and now Florida. With the end of the Rio Olympics and the winding down of summer, many travelers are returning home from abroad in areas with the Zika virus.

The CDC has issued a level two travel notice recommending those going to Zika infected areas to take “enhanced precautions,” and advising high risk populations (mainly pregnant women) to avoid traveling there altogether.

But what many might not know is that the most important step to protecting themselves (and everyone else) from Zika is actually done after returning home.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone who has travelled to an area with the Zika virus to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites for three weeks after they return.

Here’s why: If a person was bitten by a mosquito with Zika while traveling, they can inadvertently transmit the disease to their local mosquito population if they are bitten by a local mosquito after returning home.

And if that were to happen, of course the local population could then infect more people.

This is especially important because, according to the CDC, an estimated 80% of the people who contract Zika don’t even show symptoms. And for those who do show symptoms, in many cases they are only mild.

Which is to say, it’s possible travelers will contract Zika while on the road without even knowing it. And that, in turn, is why it’s especially important to prevent mosquito bites once you return home; if you’ve traveled to a place where Zika is present you could transmit the disease without ever knowing it. From the CDC:

Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from Peru should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so that they do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitoes.

I found this information while researching my trip to Peru, but it also applies everywhere else with the Zika virus. And of course take other precautions to prevent getting mosquito bites in the first place, and to prevent transmitting it through sexual contact. For more information, visit the CDC’s website here.

— Laura Rowley

* Cover photo via Global Panorama

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Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

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