Is Zika still a threat to travelers in 2017?

March 28, 2017 Chantel Windeshausen

The initial hype of health risks such as viral outbreaks can often fade quickly. In 2016, the Zika virus gained notoriety when women who were were pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant were warned against traveling to several locations known to be vacation travel hotspots. Though the media blitz has died down surrounding Zika, travelers need to still be vigilant of the risks and seriousness that the Zika virus can pose.

As travelers are planning for spring and summer travel, here are a few important facts to be mindful of when choosing a vacation destination:

Zika still exists in much of the world
According to a recent article published by Bloomberg, Zika was never eradicated from the 30 Caribbean islands and 18 countries in South America where it appeared last year, and the disease is now showing up everywhere from Southeast Asia to the South Pacific.

It can be stopped
The good news is that locations such as popular spring break destination Miami Beach used aerial spraying, manual spraying, and local awareness to eradicate the disease. With the right resources it proves that that Zika can be squashed. According to the same Bloomberg article, areas such as Bermuda have never appeared on the CDC Travel Notice list, nor have Uruguay, Chile, and Hawaii. There’s also compelling evidence that Puerto Rico has shown a dramatic decline in Zika cases.

Book with an expert that has your safety in mind
It’s important that if you are working with a travel company on your travel plans that they are asking if the travelers are of childbearing years and that they are knowledgeable of the infected locations. They should urge travelers to review the CDC website often to keep up to date on information. It’s a good idea to also talk to your physician directly for any questions/concerns.

Consider alternate destinations
A good travel company will also provide alternate destination recommendations if travelers are thinking about changing their destination due to Zika. “Our travel specialists ensure that they are providing travelers with as much information and options as possible to keep them safe. As travel professionals we give suggestions on alternate destinations that will give the traveler a similar experience without the worry of health related situations,” said Michelle Holmes, General Manager, Travel and Transport – Vacations.

Don't spread it around when you get home
After travel, the CDC recommends that even if you do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks so they do not spread Zika to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people in new regions.

Zika vaccines are coming
Though a vaccine is still several years from being available to the public, there are vaccines being developed that will soon be ready for human testing.

Until a vaccine is released, travelers should remain aware of the risks associated with the Zika virus.

More information
For additional information on how you can remain safe from the virus, we have provided valuable information on our Travel Risk Management page of our website from our partner iJET International, the premier integrated risk management firm. 

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