Health authorities in the Cook Islands have reported an outbreak of Zika fever. This is the first time that Zika fever has been reported in the Cook Islands. As of March 23, 2014, 49 laboratory-confirmed cases and 648 suspected cases have been reported. The areas of Rarotonga and Aitutaki are most affected by the outbreak. Health authorities are working to control the outbreak.
CDC recommends that travelers to the Cook Islands protect themselves from mosquito bites.
What is Zika fever?
Zika fever is an illness caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. It is closely related to dengue virus and causes a similar illness. Symptoms of Zika fever may include fever, headache, red eyes, rash, muscle aches, and joint pains. The illness is usually mild and lasts 4-7 days.
Who is at risk?
Travelers who go to certain places in Africa, Asia, and the Western Pacific are at risk of getting Zika fever (see map). The mosquito that carries Zika virus can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, and often lives around buildings in urban areas.
What can travelers do to prevent Zika fever?
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent Zika fever. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.
Prevent mosquito bites:
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.
- Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
- DEET (Products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
- Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin. Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
- IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
- Always follow product directions and reapply as directed:
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
- Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself:
- Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
- Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
If you feel sick and think you may have Zika fever:
- Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.
- Tell them about your travel.
- For more information about medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad and a list of International Joint Commission-accredited facilities.
- Get lots of rest, and drink plenty of liquids.
- Avoid spreading the disease by preventing more mosquito bites.