Important Travel Information for the Zika Virus

Dear Campus Community,


On January 15, 2016, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert to highlight countries where the Zika virus is prevalent. The World Health Organization issued a "global health emergency" on 2/1/2016 and, in so doing, has enabled greater emphasis by public health authorities in those countries affected to delegate resources for surveillance, funding for studies, and mosquito control measures.

The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes and is therefore most prevalent in tropical environments. Generally, symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), lasting several days to a week. Currently there is no vaccine to prevent, or medication to treat, Zika, but severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

Unfortunately, Zika is linked to a specific birth defect called microcephaly. This link is strong enough that the CDC issued travel guidance for pregnant women, and women trying to become pregnant, warning them to avoid visiting places where the virus is currently circulating. Until research and science on the possible virus association with microcephaly is clarified, women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should avoid going to the countries on the WHO or CDC list.

Now that Zika is confirmed in the United States, currently in southern Florida, the best course of action is to prevent infection via mosquito bite by taking precautions to decrease mosquito habitat in your environment. Exposure to Zika (and other mosquito-borne illnesses like Malaria, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya) by taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

If you have travel plans to areas affected by this virus and would like more information, please call the Travel Vaccine clinic at Vanderbilt/Nashville or the Chattanooga Health Department. Their contact information is below. As always, we are happy to give guidance at the University Wellness Center as well.

Thank you for your time and attention,

Karen Tharp
Director, University Health Service
The University Wellness Center



Important Contact Information:

Hamilton County Health Department, Chattanooga


Vanderbilt Travel Medicine Clinic, Nashville


Nashville Travel Medicine