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Travel advisory regarding Zika virus

May 5, 2016

Students, faculty and staff members who are traveling to Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Cape Verde or the Pacific Islands are asked to be aware of travel notices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding Zika virus. Visit www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/ for a map of affected areas.

The CDC advises travelers to these areas to take enhanced precautions against mosquito bites. In addition, according to the CDC, women who are pregnant should not travel to regions where Zika virus transmission is active. Women who are thinking about becoming pregnant are advised to talk with their healthcare provider before traveling.

SMU is monitoring government health advisories, including those from the CDC, Dallas County Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of State. Within the continental United States, to date no case has been reported of Zika virus locally transmitted by mosquitoes, but cases have been reported among returning travelers, including in Dallas.

Zika virus primarily is spread through bites from infected Aedes species mosquitoes. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible. Most who are infected show no symptoms or have mild symptoms lasting for several days to a week, including fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). According to the CDC, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. There is not a vaccine for Zika virus.

Travel Precautions

Students, faculty and staff planning to travel to regions where Zika virus transmission is active are urged to protect against mosquito bites, including:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use as directed EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or IR3535.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents.
  • Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

Because cases of transmission by sexual contact have been reported, the CDC also recommends safe sexual practices, including abstinence and the correct use of condoms.

If you think you may have Zika symptoms, talk to a healthcare provider and prevent further mosquito bites during the first week of illness to avoid spreading the virus.

International Travel Registration

SMU also reminds graduate students, faculty and staff members who are planning to travel internationally for any SMU-sponsored purpose to register their itinerary no less than seven days before departure with SMU’s Office of Risk Management. All undergraduates traveling abroad should be registered through SMU Abroad.

Students and employees also are urged to register for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates.

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