Zika Virus Health Alert

News Update: 8/26/16


University Health Services and public health officials urge UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff to either defer travel or use caution when traveling to Zika-affected areas as the most effective action members of the campus community can take to protect themselves from the Zika virus.

The Zika virus travel notice includes Cape Verde, Mexico; Central and South America; the Caribbean; Cayman Islands; the Pacific Islands, and as of August 19, Miami-Dade, Florida. The Zika virus is of concern because it has recently been associated with a birth defect called "microcephaly," in which babies are born with unusually small heads and brains, and with an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome, which causes temporary paralysis.

Travelers from UC Berkeley are urged to consult the CDC for area specific travel advisories as the situation is evolving. For more information, see the CDC’s questions and answers about the Zika virus, and the CA Department of Public Health Zika page and FAQs.

Additional precautions and symptoms 

The risk of birth defects makes the travel advisories particularly strong for women who are pregnant or intending to be.  If travel is unavoidable, people should use approved mosquito repellents, screens, mosquito nets, and clothing that covers as much of the body as possible. For information on effective mosquito prevention options, click here.

CDC recommends that all pregnant women who have sex parter who has traveled to or resides in an area with Zika use barrier methods every time they have sex or they should not have sex during pregnancy. Although no cases of woman-to-woman Zika transmission have been reported, these recommendations now apply to female sex partners of pregnant women. CDC is currently updating recommendations for sexually active people in which the couple is not pregnant or concerned about pregancy and for people who want to reduce personal risk of Zika infection through sex. 

Approximately 80% of those infected with the Zika virus show no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include rash, fever, joint pains, and red eyes. These symptoms typically resolve without treatment. If you have recently travel to a Zika affected area and become pregnant or develop symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pains, and/or red eyes, please seek medical care to discuss this with your doctor, or if you are a Berkleley student, please call the University Health Services Advice Nurse at (510) 643-7197.  

Update in California cases

As of August 26, 2016, there have been 189 travel-associated Zika virus infections in California. California Department of Public Health centers and programs continue to monitor Zika virus disease. These individuals contracted the virus abroad after traveling to Zika-affected areas. The virus is primarily spread by Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito biting a Zika-infected person and then biting a previously uninfected person. There have also been locally-acquired mosquito-borne cases in the continental United States. Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are not native to the Bay Area, and currently have no established population here. Zika can also be spread thorugh sex with a Zika-infected individual. 

Traveling for official university business

University employees and students traveling on official university business have access to travel insurance for a wide variety of accidents and incidents while away from the campus or primary work place. There is no charge for this service but registration is required. See UCOP travel assistance page for more information on these services including emergency medical services, emergency travel services, information services, and security evacuation services.