The Zika virus is a mosquito transferred infection. These mosquitoes bite in the day, particularly around dawn and dusk. The infection often occurs without symptoms but in some cases can cause fever, rash, severe headache, joint pain, and muscle or bone pain. Illness from Zika is usually not severe and does not require hospitalisation.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent Zika virus and no specific treatment.
As at 1 February 2016, the World Health Organisation has confirmed that there is no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus. At present, the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of mosquito bites in at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women.
World Rugby recommends that pregnant women should consider avoiding travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is occurring, including Brazil. Women who are planning to become pregnant or women who are pregnant who cannot avoid travel to affected areas should discuss their travel plans with their medical practitioner or healthcare provider. All team members and officials travelling to an area where the Zika virus is known to exist are strongly urged to protect themselves by taking measures to prevent mosquito bites (see a link to the WHO advice below).
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants (including whilst playing Rugby – a special derogation to Law 4 has been permitted for games or tournaments in the territory of a Union where the Zika virus is known to exist).
- Use closed shoes instead of sandals.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET or picaridin. Always use as directed. The following precautions are recommended in the daytime as well as night time. Insect repellents containing DEET and picaridin are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children older than two months when used according to the product label.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
- Use bed nets as necessary.
- Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.