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A Risk Worth Taking

In the last few months, the Zika virus has been spreading across tropical regions throughout the world. It has been in the media for a while now, and one might think the situation has died down. Turns out they would be wrong.


The virus is “primarily spread through mosquito bites, but can be spread through sexual contact by a man to his sex partners. Mosquitoes that spread the virus are a specific species of mosquito, and they must be infected with the virus. Zika virus may be linked to birth defects,” said the education abroad communications manager Anna Gerber.


The virus has spread into multiple countries and is affecting the newborn children in those areas. The Zika virus can lead to children being born with multiple birth defects and leaves travelers trying to avoid being bitten by the infected mosquitos. Colorado State University’s education abroad program has recently picked up on the issue. With hundreds of new programs being added every year across the world, they couldn’t have acted quicker.


Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knows more about the disease, they are able to lessen the craze, but a new problem could be facing students who are studying abroad in affected areas. The CDC has a variety of levels when it comes to this virus and the university focused its attention on areas where level two was encouraging people to practice enhanced precautions, was prevalent.


Colorado State University has hundreds of study abroad programs, and many students can go to the Caribbean, south and Latin America and some in Asia. Although most students go either to Europe or Australia during their time as a college student, many feel the need to go to other areas that are now under attack by the Zika virus. The university has a whole committee of professionals and researchers at CSU that are working to understand the Zika virus and communicate with students in affected regions.


International risk correspondent, Nicole Tobin said, “we sent a message to a variety of students studying abroad who are in areas with the level two warning… you don’t want to send it to every single student in every country that could possibly be affected. But we sent it to all current students in the affected countries, or that were in countries that would probably be affected by the end of the term.”


Tobin made it apparent that this virus is among many things that students wanting to study abroad should take note of, although it is not the highest priority on her list of worries right now due to the Brussels attacks. “Zika has really been in the media and it is a big problem, but I don’t think it is going to have as big of an impact on most travelers as the media is portraying. I think a lot of people need to think twice and know what it is and how to avoid the problem,” said Tobin.


Whether it is medical risks, transportation risks or crime risks, this is just one thing among many advisers will talk with students about before they go abroad so they can stay safe. Needless to say, everywhere students at CSU decide to study abroad they are going to be faced with risk.


National Public Radio Global Health and Development Correspondent Jason Beaubien said, “particularly around Zika, if you are not pregnant, or not planning on getting pregnant right away, I would not worry about it. You don’t want to get it, anyway so you might as well protect yourself… so protect yourself from mosquitos, but if pregnancy is not an issue then go as if you would normally go.”

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