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Consumer Reports: Zika travel concerns

Panel of Zika experts to answer public's questions (Courtesy: MGN Online)
Panel of Zika experts to answer public's questions (Courtesy: MGN Online)(KNOE)
Published: Jul. 12, 2016 at 9:33 AM CDT
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The Zika virus is on the minds of many who are traveling this summer for vacation or to visit family. Consumer Reports says there are special considerations if you decide to travel to one of the 61 countries affected by the outbreak. Those include Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, as well as Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean.

Pregnant women are most at risk for complications. They can pass on the virus to their unborn child. It can result in serious birth defects. And the mosquito-borne virus can also cause health problems in adults, although it’s not as common.

There's still a lot that we don't know about the Zika virus. But we do know that it can be spread through mosquito bites and sexual contact with infected partners. Four out of five people do not show symptoms when they’re infected with Zika.

If you are pregnant, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you do not travel to a country where there’s an outbreak. But if you do decide to go, pregnant or not, the first line of defense is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

One of the most important things you can do is buy an insect repellant in the U.S. before you travel, and bring it with you. Consumer Reports recommends Sawyer 20% Picaridin and Natrapel 8 Hour, as well as Ben’s 30% Deet Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula.

While traveling in countries with Zika, it’s important to stay indoors as much as possible. Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants, as well as light-colored clothing. Mosquitoes tend to be attracted to dark clothes.

Since Zika can be sexually transmitted, it is important that travelers use condoms and practice safe sex even when they return home. You can get more advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.