2016 Archives

Travel advisory regarding Zika virus

February 17, 2016

Students, faculty and staff members who are traveling this spring 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.

The CDC advises travelers to these areas to take enhanced precautions against mosquito bites. In addition, women who are pregnant are advised to consider postponing their travel. Women who are thinking about becoming pregnant are advised to talk with their healthcare provider before traveling. Visit www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/ for a map of affected areas.

SMU is monitoring government health advisories, including those from the CDC and Dallas County Health and Human Services. 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 but rare. 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). While knowledge of the virus is evolving, it has been linked to serious birth defects in babies of women infected during pregnancy. 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 rare 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 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. Students and employees also are urged to register for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates.

RESOURCES

Student Health Center

SMU Office of Risk Management

SMU International Travel Registration

CDC Zika information

CDC travel notices

Dallas County Health and Human Services

U.S. State Department Smart Traveller Enrollment Program (STEP)