ATLANTA, Ga. – In an effort to further prevent the spread of the Zika virus, the Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday issued a new travel advisory asking Americans who plan to travel to Central and South America this summer to pack plenty of cigarettes and tonic water.
“Cigarette smoking actually has some health benefits in that in that it works as a natural deterrent to mosquitoes,” Dr. Raymond Goodwin, an infectious disease specialist at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, explained. “When you exhale tobacco smoke, you are – in a sense – creating a temporary force field around your body which mosquitoes are simply unable to penetrate.”
The CDC is asking those who are traveling to regions and countries where Zika is most prevalent, including Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Honduras, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico, to consider postponing travel plans until more is known about the virus.
In the event travel is unavoidable, Dr. Goodwin said Americans – particularly pregnant women – who visit the affected regions should make a concentrated effort to smoke as many cigarettes as possible throughout the duration of their trip. “If you’re outdoors or in an area where mosquitoes are common, the best line of defense is frequent consumption of tonic water coupled with incessant smoking,” Goodwin advised. “Also, consider lathering yourself in bug spray and, if you can, keep a citronella candle burning nearby at all times.”
Dr. Goodwin said by adhering to the necessary precautions, travelers are far less likely to contract the Zika virus through a mosquito bite. However, the CDC warns the possibility of catching it through sexual transmission remains high.
To further assist travelers in the protecting themselves against the Zika virus, the CDC, working in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration, is issuing one free carton of Marlboro brand cigarettes to travelers who are destined for Central and South America for trips lasting one week or less.