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Zika Update

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 11:10am


SPRING BREAK: What to Know Before You Go

Before you head out:

Check out the prevalence of health risks at your destination, and line up necessary vaccinations and medications. Note that the Zika virus, which is primarily transmitted by infected mosquitos, presents major health issues in many countries around the globe, and that there are several steps you can take to help prevent Zika. More information can be found at www.cdc.gov/zika

Don’t go to an indoor tanning salon to prepare for your time in the sun. Indoor tanning is not safe. In addition to prematurely aging your skin, use of indoor tanning booths greatly increases the risk of melanoma. Learn more at www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/indoor_tanning.htm

Make sure you can stay in touch. Contact your cell phone carrier to make sure you’ll have access to your services while you are away and what costs will be associated with long-distance calling, texts, etc.

Make a copy of your passport to carry and scan a copy of it into your phone. Be sure to also have a copy of your health insurance card or other important information saved to your phone.

While you’re away:

In the sun. Remember that the sun’s rays are stronger the closer you get to the Equator, and that sun-deprived winter skin can burn in a much shorter time. Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30 strength. Apply it 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply often.

In the water. Be sure to take care when swimming in the ocean, particularly in areas where there are strong currents and rip tides. Even the strongest swimmers are at risk in such conditions.

Sex and respect. If you are sexually active, use latex condoms to prevent infections that can be sexually transmitted, including Zika. Know what “consent” is and respect it for all forms of intimacy.

Look out for each other. Don’t fall victim to “vacation mentality” and   assume no harm can come to you or your friends simply because you are in a different location. Keep track of each other when you go out, and make sure your friends are in a state of mind to make safe and healthy decisions.

Know where to get help. Take a moment to find out the location of local medical facilities. Know who to call or where to go in the case of a medical emergency.

If you drink, do so responsibly. Know your limits. Don’t leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from someone you don’t know. Drink plenty of water and be sure to eat. Don’t drink and drive.

Zika Virus Update 2.10.16, 4:45 pm:


Message to Lehigh Community Regarding Zika Virus

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

We have been informed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that one of our students who traveled abroad over the winter break has tested positive for the Zika virus. We are grateful to be able to report that the student has recovered and is feeling well. 

The Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center has been in direct contact with state health officials, who indicate that there is no additional health risk to anyone on campus.

A Q & A developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can provide more background on the Zika virus: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/disease-qa.html.


John Smeaton

Vice-Provost of Student Affairs


Zika Virus Update 2.10.16:

Lehigh continues to monitor the Zika virus outbreak in various countries. No locally transmitted Zika  cases have been reported in the continental United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers. Lehigh would like to advise members of the Lehigh community who are considering traveling in areas with the Zika virus to be aware and to take precautions. Updated information about Zika outbreaks around the globe can be found at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.

If you are traveling to areas with active Zika virus transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites such as wearing long sleeves and long pants, staying in screened or air-conditioned places, applying government-registered bug repellents and using mosquito nets when sleeping.  You can read more about these suggestions on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/.

Any individuals who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should consider avoiding or postponingtravel to the affected areas.

More information can also be found at:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/zika

World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/topics/zika/en/

U.S. State Department: https://www.travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/Zika.html

We will continue to monitor this situation. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of the disease  – which includes fever, rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain – within two week of travel to an area of concern should contact the Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center for an appointment. Be sure to tell your health care provider when and where you have traveled.