The Zika virus has been grabbing headlines across the world. As the Olympics draw closer, the public only seems to be worrying more, notably as the number of high-profile Rio withdrawals grows—and now includes nearly all of the world’s top male golfers.
A recent survey of 2,714 visitors to WebMD.com aims to shed a little light on the public’s concerned thoughts on the virus. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they would not travel to an area infected by the Zika virus, and more than half of millennials surveyed are very concerned about Zika.
“Pregnant women are worried about the safety of their baby,” Dana Meaney-Delman, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist on the CDC Zika Virus Response’s Pregnancy and Birth Defects Task Force. “They want to know when during pregnancy Zika is riskiest as well as other topics, like how safe insect repellent is. Women who are not pregnant are concerned about future pregnancies.”
But people are also concerned even if they are not pregnant, says Meaney-Delman. One of the reasons may be the fact that Zika patients don’t always show symptoms. In fact, 80% of people with Zika don’t show any symptoms at all. Others may experience a fever, joint pain, and red eyes or conjunctivitis.
In general, the public is familiar with the fact that Zika can cause birth defects in unborn babies including microcephaly, which materializes in babies as unusually small heads and brain damage.
Here are more statistics related to mosquito-borne diseases including Zika:
- 45% of survey respondents said they’re very concerned about Zika spreading in the US
- 42% said they’re more concerned about illness from mosquitoes this year than in past years
- 32% said they’re very concerned about mosquito-borne diseases
Also from the survey: Among people who know someone who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy, levels of concern were higher, as 51% of such survey respondents said they’re “very concerned about Zika spreading in the US” and 49% reported that they’re “more concerned about illness from mosquitoes” this year than in past years.
Zika and your travel plans
The best thing to do is to continue to keep yourself informed and monitor conditions where you plan to travel. For more advice, check out my past articles on Zika:
- What You Need to Know: Zika Virus and Travel Refunds
- Travel Tip of the Day: Zika: New Advice for Staying Safe
- Are Americans Afraid to Attend the Olympics Because of Zika?
Her answer is “no,” since Zika is linked to other serious illnesses. “Also, you never know how an individual’s immune system will respond to infection with a particular virus,” she says.