Heading to Mexico? California health officials warn travelers to avoid Zika virus

California health officials are again warning winter travelers headed for Mexico to take precautions against the Zika virus, after an Ensenada man was reported testing positive for the mosquito-borne disease.

“Many Californians enjoy spending time in Mexico, and this news about local transmission just across the border emphasizes the importance for travelers to take precautions against mosquito bites,” said Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health, in a statement.

Many Mexican states with popular tourist destinations, including Baja California and Sonora, near the Arizona border, continue to see reports of local Zika transmissions. The case in Ensenada, which is about 76 miles south of San Diego, was reported by Mexican officials this week.

While there have been no local transmissions of Zika virus in California, state health officials have confirmed 486 cases of people who contracted it while traveling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider any travel to Mexico a risk for contracting Zika. The virus, which shows no symptoms in most people, can be transmitted by mosquito bites, from mother to fetus, and through sex with an infected partner. In worst cases, it leads to birth defects and the brain disease microcephaly.

Both Florida and Texas have had reported cases of locally transmitted Zika virus.

Travelers to those two states and Mexico are advised to wear mosquito repellant, and long sleeves and pants.

All travelers, particularly women of childbearing age, should protect themselves against mosquito bites both during their trip and after returning home. Sexually active people who travel to areas with Zika transmission should use condoms or other protection to avoid getting or passing Zika during sex, state officials advised.

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