GA health officials look to Zika prevention with start of mosqui - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

GA health officials look to Zika prevention with start of mosquito season

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

From exploring new places to missions trips, traveling is in store for many folks in the Valley as spring break is right around the corner.

However, some popular destinations might pose health concerns, particularly the Zika virus that's gaining attention for causing birth defects for pregnant women.

There are dozens of places in the Caribbean and South America that have been affected by the Zika virus in the past nine months.

"The Zika virus in particular, there's not really an immunization for it, so this trip we restricted any pregnancies, there was no one allowed who was pregnant or planned to get pregnant," said Johnny Anderson with the Evangel Temple in Columbus, when describing the requirements of the church's recent mission trip.

Anderson knows what it's like to venture into an increasing and spreading Zika territory. Anderson and his team recently returned from a missions trip to El Salvador, one of the countries that's strongly infected.

"They don't have the safety, cleaning and hygiene standards that we have here, that's a big factor when you have mosquitoes and the insects they have because of hygiene issues," said Anderson.

Whether it's sandy beaches beckoning or a call from above to help out, traveling to certain areas this time of year could be dangerous. The Zika virus is usually nothing more than a rash, fever, and joint pain for most- but the danger lies with pregnant women as birth defects have been associated.

Some popular travel destinations include Costa Rica, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Mexico - all who have active and spreading cases, but if you're not pregnant or will be soon, you might be set with simple bug spray.

"Over the years there's always been something that comes up that could stop you, but like anything else, if you want to find it bad enough you'll find a way to do it," said Anderson.

Travel-related cases of the virus have already popped up in the U.S., with cases in both Georgia and Alabama, and with Mosquito season springing up with warmer spring and summer temps, officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health hope to prevent the spread.

No vaccine for the virus currently exists, and health experts say avoiding mosquito bites is their primary initiative to prevent it.

Currently, the virus can only be spread through sexual contact here in the U.S. Health officials recommending pregnant women cancel trips to or avoid going to those infected areas in the Caribbean, Central and South America. You can see the full travel advisory list from the CDC here.

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