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Post-Travel Illness—What You Should Do.

Posted by Stuart Rose on

If you are a short-term (1-3 weeks) traveler to a tropical or semi-tropical region, you could be incubating a tropical or infectious disease that becomes symptomatic only after you return. Failure to recognize the connection of your symptoms with travel can have serious—even fatal—consequences. Undiagnosed falciparum malaria is often the cause. If you have unexplained fever, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea, chest pain and cough or weight loss, get checked ASAP. Typhoid fever is also a possibility.

 Even if you do not feel sick, you should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks after visiting area with Zika so that you do not spread Zika to the mosquitoes in your area. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. Remember that many people infected with Zika virus do not feel sick, so all travelers who have been to areas with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks.

Zika can be spread through sex (vaginal, anal or oral sex or sharing of sex toys). Because of the risk of severe birth defects from Zika infection if a woman is infected during pregnancy, people who have traveled to an area with Zika who have pregnant partners should either use condoms or not have sex during the entire pregnancy.

For couples who are considering pregnancy, see Women Trying to Become Pregnant for time frames on how long to wait after travel. Travelers who are not pregnant or trying to become pregnant should also use condoms for the same time periods so they do not spread Zika to their sex partners.

If you are a pregnant woman returning from an area with Zika or have had a possible sexual exposure, you should be offered testing for Zika. If you develop a fever with a rash, joint pain, or red eyes, talk to your health care provider immediately and tell him or her about your travel or possible sexual exposure. If you do not have symptoms, testing should be offered, up to 12 weeks after you return from travel or your last possible sexual exposure.

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