Those darn mosquitos. Pesky, aren't they? And sometimes they are more than an irritation. Sometimes they are downright dangerous. For example, the mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are like the monsters under your bed. The Centers for Disease Control has recently raised its travel alerts for the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America due to this mosquito-borne virus.
Remember the West Nile virus, which had us all freaked out? It caused a fever in many people, but serious danger to less than 1%. Twenty percent of those who contract the Zika virus become ill with a fever, rash, joint pain. Some get conjunctivitis (pink eye). It has been linked to Guillan-Barre syndrome, where the immune system attacks your nerves.
The Zika virus is so bad, they are warning women in El Salvador not to get pregnant for two years because the Zika virus can cause serious birth defects, including microencephaly (think Pepper from American Horror Story). The World Health Organization (WHO) is convening an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee in a few days in response to the increase in neurological issues and birth defects resulting from the Zika virus.
So what is the world traveler supposed to do? There is no vaccine and cure. If you are pregnant (or hoping/planning to be in the near future), I strongly suggest you avoid the affected areas at least until a vaccine or cure is found. (The CDC agrees with me).
Otherwise, if you must (or insist) on traveling to these tropical paradises, you can try to follow the CDC guidelines for prevention, which basically amount to: stay away from mosquitoes. Specifically, wear insect repellant, cover your skin (long sleeves, pants), stay inside with windows/doors closed.
This doesn't bode well for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro later this year.