Spelman College's Response to the Zika Virus
As part of its Going Global! initiative, Spelman College encourages each student to engage in international travel or a study abroad experience before graduation. The College’s global scholars travel throughout the academic year to Africa, Europe, South and Central America, Asia, and other parts of the globe to participate in internships, fellowships and intercultural engagement programs.
While the College opens the doors of opportunity for cultural and scholarly experiences, it is important to know that the health and safety of the student population is of foremost concern.
The World Health Organization has recently declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel alert for those traveling to countries where Zika virus transmission is prevalent. The affected countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean include: Brazil, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Curacao, Samoa, Nicaragua, Suriname, Venezuela and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection that typically causes little or no symptoms. However, the Zika virus has been linked to increases in microcephaly cases, which cause underdeveloped brains in infants. At this point, the CDC advises that pregnant women, and women trying to get pregnant, consider postponing their travel to these regions. As a result, Spelman strongly advises students who fall into this category postpone their international travel plans to the countries noted above.
About the Zika Virus
Short Answers to Hard Questions About Zika Virus - New York Times
World Health Organization
Center for Disease Control
According to CDC, for the average traveler, it appears the risk for contracting the virus in the affected regions is the same as other vector borne diseases such as dengue or chikungunya. The best advice involves the prevention of mosquito bites.
Protection Against Bug Bites
How to Avoid Bug Bites
Insect Repellent Use and Safety
About Other Mosquito-borne Diseases
The College will continue to monitor the reports mentioned above, assess current conditions and update the Spelman community as needed. Staff and faculty facilitating the College’s travel program orientations will continue discussions with students regarding this health issue and related emergency health services.