NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health cautions travelers headed soon to warmer climates for spring break or mission work to have an increased awareness about diseases spread by mosquitoes and to make mosquito bite prevention an essential part of their trip planning.
TDH advises women who are pregnant or of childbearing age to especially understand the risk of contracting Zika virus disease, which has recently been suspected of association with microcephaly in newborns. Microcephaly is a birth defect in which an infant’s head and brain are smaller than normal. Complications of microcephaly may include a variety of developmental delays, physical distortion, challenges with coordination and balance, seizures and other life-long problems.
Because there is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus disease and no specific medical treatment for those who are infected, TDH urges all who may be considering travel to the growing number of countries where there is evidence of the disease being transmitted to have heightened awareness and to protect themselves and others from disease transmission. The list of affected areas includes many countries in the Caribbean and South and Central America. The list changes frequently; to see the most current list, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website www.cdc.gov/zika/.
Several preventive actions are recommended including the wearing of repellants at all times, wearing proper clothing, wearing pretreated permethrin clothing or treat your clothes, and avoid perfumes or colognes that attract mosquitoes.
Travelers with questions about Zika virus disease can find regularly updated information from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/zika/qa/index.html. The website addresses commonly asked questions about methods of transmission, Zika virus and animals, care for those who are infected, care for infants and children and other general topics.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.