By Dr. Matias Nochetto, MD
Zika virus is an emergent tropical disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The disease typically presents as a mild fever with a skin rash and conjunctivitis, and it usually resolves between 2 to 7 days.
The main concern with Zika virus is pregnant women due to increased risk of microcephaly in the newborn. Although pregnancy is a contraindication to scuba diving, pregnant travelers should be aware when traveling to countries and territories with confirmed cases of autochthonous transmission. There is no specific treatment, and the best way to prevent it is protection agains mosquito bites.
If you travel to these areas, watch for the mosquito is Aedes aegypti (same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever). Use repellents with DEET or permethrin. Spray on exposed skin as directed on the product label and apply also on clothes, bed nets and mosquito screens on doors and windows.
For more on Zika virus visit the WHO’s fact sheet.