The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified all of India as having a current Zika epidemic. The outbreak is currently primarily in Uttar Pradesh. Since October 2021, 109 confirmed cases have been reported. As reported in previous news, Zika cases have also been registered in other parts of India (Kerala, Maharashtra).

Zika virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes that bite during the day in many tropical regions, but can also be transmitted sexually. About 80% of infections are asymptomatic. Clinical symptoms are usually not severe and last between 5 and 7 days: fever, red skin rash (rash) with itching, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), sometimes headache, and muscle pain. Neurological (Guillain-Barré syndrome) and immunological complications may occur. There is no vaccine or specific therapy against the Zika virus. Pregnant women have a higher risk, as Zika can cause severe malformations in the unborn child.

 

Consequences for travelers

Currently, there is an increased risk of transmission of the Zika virus in India. Note that the Zika virus can also be transmitted sexually!

Prevention: Protect yourself optimally around the clock (24/7) against mosquitoes (see factsheet mosquito and tick bite protection): during the day against dengue, chikungunya, Zika and other viruses, at dusk and at night against malaria.
When traveling to areas with a Zika outbreak, as is now the case in India, the Swiss Expert Committee for Travel Medicine recommends using a condom/femidom during travel and for at least 2 months after return to prevent possible sexual transmission of the virus.
 
Pregnant women are currently advised not to travel to India due to the risk of malformations in the unborn child. If travel is absolutely necessary, it is recommended to consult a travel medicine specialist before departure.
Women planning to become pregnant should wait at least 2 months after their return (or that of their partner) from India to begin family planning. In the case of medically assisted reproduction, this period should be extended to at least 3 months.

Please read the factsheet zika, especially if you are pregnant or you or your partner are planning to become pregnant.

 

References

CDC Travel News, 9.12.2021, ECDC 13.11.2021, EKRM statement 2019