1 February 2016
BSA have been contacted by schools seeking guidance on dealing with students returning from or visiting countries affected by the current outbreak of the Zika virus.
Heads may find helpful the specific Zika virus guidance and risk assessment issued by Public Health England (please see links below for members in Scotland and Wales). Schools with particular queries can contact their local Health Protection Team – local contact details can be searched for here.
BSA advises anyone concerned about the Zika virus or any other travel related issues should consult https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Schools wishing to communicate with parents will want to tell them that medical issues are subject to the professional advice of the school doctor and the Department of Health.
As appropriate we will issue further advice on the Zika virus, as the situation develops. In the meantime if you have any specific medical queries, not covered by your own nurse, GP or the links within this guidance, please feel free to contact Kathy Compton, nursing adviser to the BSA via Compton.firstname.lastname@example.org
The following pages outline guidance as issued by Public Health England.
Advice from Public Health England
Pregnant travellers and those with serious health problems are advised to seek advice from a health professional before travel to areas with active ZIKV transmission; pregnant women are advised to reconsider travel plans.
- Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
- People with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash (exanthema) and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
- There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
- The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
- The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
Signs and Symptoms Symptoms of Zika virus infection may include:
- joint pain
- conjunctivitis or red eyes
- muscle pain
- eye pain
Zika virus disease is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.
Countries with active Zika virus transmission Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
Since mid-2015 (to 29 January 2016), countries with active Zika virus transmission (confirmed locally-acquired cases in the last 6 months) include:
- Cape Verde
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Martin
- US Virgin Islands
Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from theAedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Mosquitoes and their breeding sites pose a significant risk factor for Zika virus infection. Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people.
This can be done by using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets. It is also important to empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets, flower pots or tyres, so that places where mosquitoes can breed are removed.
Special attention and help should be given to those who may not be able to protect themselves adequately, such as young children, the sick or elderly.
During outbreaks, health authorities may advise that spraying of insecticides be carried out. Insecticides recommended by the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme may also be used as larvicides to treat relatively large water containers.
Travellers should take the basic precautions.