Kansas City,
11:18 AM

Tips for travelers concerned about Zika virus

Dr. Angela Myers

No Zika virus cases have been reported in the Kansas City area, but businesses with employees traveling outside of the United States should take extra precautions, said Dr. Angela Myers, an infectious disease specialist at Children's Mercy.

A Zika virus infection is caused by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, which is the primary mode of transmission. However, it has also been found to be transmitted through sexual contact, causing birth defects in children born by infected women.

Common symptoms of the virus include fever, rash, joint pain and eye inflammation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports no locally transmitted Zika cases have been identified in the continental United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers. As of now, Central America, South America, a few Pacific islands and parts of Africa have active Zika virus transmissions.

The World Health Organization officially declared the Zika outbreak a public emergency of international concern on Monday. That's something the WHO has done three times before.

Dr. Myers answers a few specific questions about the Zika virus:

How might the Zika virus affect Kansas City businesses?

The biggest risk would be if there are a lot of cases in a particular business and they had a lot of employees out ill, but it is most likely to affect business travelers.

If you're traveling out of the country for work, Myers said you should look at the resources from the CDC, look at maps of where the Zika virus is active and take precautions when you are traveling. If you're a woman who is pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, she recommends not traveling to an area where there is ongoing Zika virus transmission.

How can business people protect themselves when traveling?

People don't realize that if you're traveling to places with Zika, you should be protecting yourself with DEET. Myers, who prefers wipes to sprays, says the DEET product needs to be 30 percent and you need to reapply it.

Outside of Zika concerns, she says travelers should get vaccinated if they're traveling to some places in Mexico. Especially in rural Mexico, you should get typhoid vaccine. You want to go and come back healthy and not get sick after. That's miserable.

If someone is diagnosed, what type of protocol should a business take?

The Zika virus is not spread by casual transmission. It's not like you're going to cough or sneeze and give it to someone else.

There's no communicability that would keep you from working, but nobody should go to work with a fever, rash and joint aches. If you're sick, you should stay home.

If you have been to a place where there is ongoing Zika transmission, tell your doctor and they should contact the state lab to do testing. Right now testing is done through state health labs and then onto the CDC.

What are the symptoms of Zika and should people worry?

About 80 percent of people who get infected don't have any symptoms whatsoever; they don't even know they've been infected. The 20 percent that do get symptoms typically are very mild. Some fever, rash, joint pains and eye inflammation that lasts up to a week and then it goes away.

The big worry is for women who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant get infected. The worry then is about the unborn child and what happens with brain development.

See the full story via The Kansas City Business Journal

Read more about Children's Mercy's Infectious Disease Clinic