You want to surf in a bikini or board shorts and you are not sure if the Zika virus is something you should worry about? As a pregnant woman or as a woman planning to become pregnant soon you should avoid any regions at risk, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the outbreak is growing. Check out the WHO latest Zika report and circulation map and the Zika Travel Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Other than that, if you are reasonably healthy there are other infectious diseases that should motivate you to avoid mosquito bites even more. Usually, the infection with the Zika Virus is mild and won’t have any long term effects on your health. There seems to be a connection to a higher incidence of an autoimmune muscle weakness called the Guillain-Barre syndrom. However, I’d worry more about Dengue Fever. The Virus can cause severe health damage. It is transmitted by similar species of mosquitos like the Zika Virus. They are mostly daytime active.
Sweet, you think. Dengue has been around for a while and it did not stop you from trunking it in the tropics before. Not quite though. The Zika Virus is the reason for a dramatic increase in miscarriages and delayed brain development in unborn childrenin effected countries. So if there are pregnant women close to you you might want to reconsider the destination of your next surf trip.
The Zika Virus can be transmitted by mosquito species that are native to Southern California, Southern Europe and Northern Australia as well. So if you carry the Virus back home (probably not even realizing it as the symptoms can be really mild) and a mosquito passes it on to a pregnant women it could potentially harm the unborn child.
OK, the odds are slight and you are not Mother Teresa and you really want to go on that surf trip. But there is one more variable you have to consider. As far as scientists know there is a possibility that the Virus can be sexually transmitted several weeks after you come back from your trip. So far, there have only been reported cases of men passing it on to women. So if you are becoming a dad or planning on becoming a dad soon reconsider the location of your next surf trip or take precautions such as mosquito repellent and condoms. Or go to Ireland.
For more information: The New York Times did an awesome job of summarizing the current Zika situation.