Miami Ob-Gyn puts Zika into Perspective

Esperanza Sunset 2-Credit-ViequesVive

Nothing is more rejuvenating than a vacation on a tropical island, but how can you relax when you’re worried about Zika?  The Puerto Rico Tourism Company talked to Dr. Jason James, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baptist Hospital in Miami, and avid world-traveler who gave his advice for visitors to the island. A board certified gynecologist in private practice at FemCare Ob-Gyn, Dr. James has received numerous awards, including the Patients’ Choice Recognition in 2008 through 2012, as well as being named as one of the Best Physicians in the Consumers’ Guide to Top Physicians.

Dr. James offers five tips to put Zika into perspective.


It’s simple:  if you’re pregnant, or planning to conceive, follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines and do not travel to areas where the Zika virus is active. But, if you’re not pregnant, take your vacation, take your business trip, and live your life. It’s important to choose facts over fear.  If you take all normal travel precautions – sunscreen, insect repellent, etc. – you can have the time of your life.  Remember, take a deep breath and exhale, and enjoy all the beauty around you.


I encourage anyone who’s traveling to check the CDC website to learn more about Zika.  The CDC website will have resources for the latest information about the virus, travel alerts, and more.  Remember that when it comes to the Zika virus, the general population has little to fear. According to the CDC, 80 percent of people infected with the virus never even show symptoms, and when they do, those symptoms are typically mild and usually last only two to seven days. These symptoms include, fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes)—symptoms that can be mitigated with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medication.


Currently, the CDC suggests that the Zika virus only poses a serious risk to pregnant women and those trying to conceive. Their guidelines indicate that women in any trimester should avoid travel to destinations where active local Zika virus transmission is occurring.



One of the most important (and fun) parts of planning any trip is preparing before you leave home. For any tropical vacation, it’s essential to bring insect repellent and sunscreen to remain healthy and worry-free.  The CDC website has a list of recommended EPA-registered insect repellents that travelers should pack to avoid mosquito bites.  When wearing sunscreen, be sure to apply sunscreen first, then repellent once sunscreen has dried. The repellent needs to be on top to repel mosquitos and other insects.


There are a number of simple, common-sense steps travelers can take to help avoid getting the Zika virus. The easiest way to avoid contracting the virus is to follow the CDC guidelines to take steps to prevent mosquito bites and use condoms or other barriers to prevent transmission through sexual contact. To avoid mosquito bites, the CDC recommends the use of an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)/para-menthane-diol (PMD), or IR3535.  It’s essential to follow instructions on repellent label and be sure to apply at proper intervals, as directed.  Cover exposed skin with long sleeves and long pants, when possible, especially when traveling through rainforests and around standing water. Finally, keep mosquitos out of your hotel room by closing all balcony doors and windows or using screens.



When in doubt…talk to the experts.  In addition to checking the CDC website for the latest Zika news, when you’re on the island, the hotel front desk and concierge are great resources.  People who work at hotels will not only help you find the best hidden beaches and Pina Colada bars, they know the facts about Zika too.  The Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA), has equipped it members with all the facts about Zika and how to prevent mosquito bites to share with visitors.  So go ahead, be brave, and get the real stories from the people who know.  Having all the information is the best way to have a worry-free vacation.