One of the Fund’s carriers — Blue Shield — has circulated a notice to the Fund, as well as many other Union benefit plans, regarding the Zika Virus. The Notice provides important information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to those thinking about traveling to certain countries. As many of you travel outside of the United States for work, the Fund believes your access to this information is vital.
Below is that very important notice from Blue Shield:
On behalf of Blue Shield, we wanted to let you know that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recently issued a Travel Alert warning travelers to avoid 14 countries in South/Central America (including Mexico) and the Caribbean because of a mosquito-transmitted virus infection called Zika. Women infected with Zika early in pregnancy are giving birth to babies with a condition called “microcephaly” (small head) that results in severe developmental delay and early death.
Those who decide to travel to one of these areas, should seek the advice of a health care specialist and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Women trying to become pregnant should also consult with a healthcare provider prior to traveling to these areas.
Zika virus has not yet been reported in the continental United States, however, infections have been reported in travelers returning to the United States, and the numbers of these cases are likely to increase. A local spread of the virus could occur in some areas of the United States by a human-to-mosquito-to-human spread of the virus.
For more information about the Zika virus, please review the official CDC Media Statement and visit the CDC Zika Virus webpage.
However, and since the Blue Shield notice was published, the Fund has received a more recent notice from the office of California State Senator Carol Liu. This notice is especially concerning as the California Department of Public Health states that there are now confirmed reports of the Zika virus in California. To ensue you have access to all of the information the Fund has on this important issue, we are also printing the letter from Senator Liu’s office in its entirety:
There have been multiple confirmed reports of the Zika virus found in California. According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) the virus is primarily transferred through mosquitos found in Latin America. While the virus is not contagious, the CDPH recommends travel precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the most common symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). The incubation period is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week. If you or someone you know has recently traveled to Latin America or has questions relating to the Zika virus, please contact your healthcare provider.
For more information, please visit the links below:
California Department of Public Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office at 818-409-0400.
The Fund will continue to update you with any additional information it receives on the Zika Virus. In the interim, if you do have to travel to one of the countries at risk, please consult your physician before embarking on your tour.