Popular tourist destinations in Mexico are the site of Zika transmissions, and California public health officials on Monday warned holiday travelers to be prepared to protect themselves from diseased mosquitoes.
The Zika virus has been transmitted in popular Mexican locations including Cancun, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, and Mazatlan, according to the California Department of Public Health. The department also warned generally about travel to Latin American destinations where Zika transmissions are occurring.
Any travelers to Mexico are at risk for Zika virus infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.
The virus is primarily spread through bites from infected mosquitoes but also between men and women during sex.
Many people who contract the virus have no symptoms, but some may have fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis.
Pregnant women who contract the virus can bear children with microcephaly, a serious birth defect. Pregnant women and couples looking to conceive are urged by California and U.S. health officials not the travel to areas with risk of Zika infection.
Information on how people can protect themselves from Zika-infected mosquitoes is available from the state public health department.
In California, there have been 362 cases of travel-associated infections with Zika. No cases in which people were infected within the state have been reported.
The Mexican state that borders California, Baja California, has not reported any local virus transmission, according to public health officials in Sacramento. But the kind of mosquitoes that carry the virus are present there and in California.
“The mosquitoes that can carry and infect people with Zika live in many areas of California,” said State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “If one of these mosquitoes bites an infected person, it can spread the virus by biting another person. That is why we ask people traveling to Mexico, or any other place where Zika exists, to take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks after a trip, even if you don’t feel sick.”
Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties all have invasive Aedes mosquitoes.