Michigan warns travelers against Zika virus

Aedes aegypti mosquito
FILE - This 2006 file photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. The The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, announced new guidance for doctors whose pregnant patients may have traveled to regions with a tropical illness linked to birth defects. Officials say doctors should ask pregnant women about their travel and certain symptoms, and, if warranted, test them for an infection with the Zika virus. The virus is spread through mosquito bites. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

Lots of people get souvenirs from their vacations – but there’s something Michigan doesn’t want travelers to bring back: the Zika virus.

As the weather gets warmer and more people travel, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is giving people advice on how to avoid getting the disease.

The virus is typically transferred through mosquito bites – so avoiding the sting has to do with much of that advice.

“The best way to prevent mosquito-borne illness is to protect yourself and those closest to you from mosquito bites in an area with local Zika transmission,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the MDHHS in a press release. “These mosquitoes bite during the day.  Prevent mosquito bites by using EPA approved insect repellents and staying in accommodations with air conditioning and window screens.”

The department says the disease itself is relatively mild. People who get the Zika virus can get a fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes lasting for several days to a week.

The disease can also be spread sexually. And the real danger is transferring that disease to women who may become pregnant, as the disease has now been linked to developmental problems with fetuses. Many children born who were exposed to the Zika virus have smaller heads and other brain problems.

The Centers for Disease Control says women who are pregnant should not travel to areas with the Zika virus, and that they avoid pregnancy for 8 weeks after returning from a Zika infected area. Men who travel to such an area should use condoms for 6 months.

For more information, you can visit the CDC’s website to learn more about the disease.

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