Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Zika a non-factor for spring breakers

By Emily Kim

Spring break calls for relaxation, and if lucky enough, bathing in the sun on the

beach on a tropical island miles away from home. But it seems to be that every so often

there’s a new disease that causes chaos and immediate concern around the world; this

year, it’s the Zika virus. However, those traveling don’t seem too hesitant to cancel any

spring break plans.

Zika virus has been around since 1947, but only recently has it become an

international pubic health concern causing a scare around the world. The symptoms of the

virus are similar to those of other diseases, including fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes,

making it hard to recognize as Zika. Because it is spread through mosquitoes, prevention

is difficult. With no vaccines or specific treatments, the main focus for doctors is to cure

the ones who already have the virus.

This virus has been the recent epidemic over the past couple of months. The mass

media and news coverage has been spreading awareness about the virus, but yet many

people are still not aware of it.

“I actually had no idea about the Zika virus until one of my friends told me about

it a week before going on spring break,” Chelsey Larkin, a spring breaker, said.

Larkin had just come back from going on vacation to the Dominican Republic.

And with the virus being prominent in the Caribbean and Latin America areas, her spring

break could have been one to forget. She wasn’t aware of the affects and the conditions

Zika virus gave, but decided to give her luck a chance by going anyways.

“I was freaking out a little bit because I was just reading all of these things about

it right before leaving, but it didn’t stop me from going. I just made sure I had bug spray

and hoped for the best,” Larkin said.

Although Zika virus is an international public heath concern, many people are not

worried about catching the disease. Even though the mosquitoes carrying the virus are

more popular in the Caribbean islands, travelers are deciding to stick with their tropical

spring break plans.

Karina Ferreira, a spring breaker traveling to St. Lucia, had known about the virus

in advance of planning her trip. She read articles and retained information that relieved

her from worrying too much about it for her vacation.

“I’m not too concerned because the Zika virus is mainly a problem to a woman

who is pregnant because it leads to birth deficits, but to a woman who is not pregnant it

hasn’t had serious effects,” Ferreira said.

People who get the disease can have symptoms lasting up to a week, and then

they are free from infection. However, for women who are pregnant, these symptoms

become more complicated and dangerous. Mothers who carry Zika virus give birth to

babies born with unusually small heads and brain damage, also known as microcephaly.

Amanda Buskey had recently gone on vacation to Dominican Republic with her

husband. With the hopes of starting a family, Buskey was aware of the possible affects

Zika virus could have on women who are pregnant and those who are trying to conceive.

She knew about the virus before going to Dominican Republic and took extra caution.

“Since my husband and I were aware of the possible threat, we were careful to

ensure not to become pregnant prior to or during our trip,” Buskey said.

And instead of having the thought of the virus ruin her trip, Buskey was proactive

and applied insect repellent multiple times throughout the day. But knowing that the virus

most likely leaves a person’s system in no more than a week, Buskey was given relief for

her future plans on becoming pregnant.

“When deciding to start a family, there are endless worries that go through your

head without the need of adding stress of the Zika Virus into the mix,” Buskey said.

With the words “Zika virus” printed on newspapers and headlines, awareness is

being spread. And with the photographs and coverage on these babies with

underdeveloped brains, people who are taking notice are observing the horrific

consequences it can have on someone.

“When I heard about the Zika virus I had no idea what it really was. All I thought

was that it was a non-preventable and incurable disease, so obviously I was hesitant about

going on spring break to Aruba,” Nicole Rescigno, spring breaker, said.

Awareness is evident and is concerning, however, people who are not pregnant or

are trying to become pregnant are learning to be less concerned than those who are. And

after reading information about the virus and learning the symptoms and its affects,

spring breakers seem more than okay with traveling to their original destinations.

“Besides the possibility of being pretty sick for a few days, I knew that my spring

break vacation would be worth it,” Rescigno said.

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