Updates on the Zika Virus – Updated 08-February 2016
The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Although it was discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia, it did not begin spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere until May of 2015 when an outbreak occurred in Brazil.
On 01-February 2016, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency, prompted by growing concern that it could cause birth defects. As many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged pregnant women against travel to about two dozen countries where the outbreak is growing, including countries in Latin America. Click here to read more. They have also issued an enhanced precaution alert for those traveling to regions affected by Zika. Click here to read more.
Despite the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern of the Zika virus, the WHO asserts there should be no restrictions on travel within the affected areas and that the following travel measures should be observed:
- There should be no restrictions on travel or trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission.
- Travellers to areas with Zika virus transmission should be provided with up to date advice on potential risks and appropriate measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to mosquito bites.
- Standard WHO recommendations regarding disinfection of aircraft and airports should be implemented.
Here are a few important things to bear in mind as you consider upcoming travel plans:
- Cases of Zika have been identified on four continents. It has been detected in more than 20 countries in the Americas including the United States.
- Symptoms can include mild fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain, and general feeling of illness that begins 2-7 days after infection. Four out of five people who are infected have no symptoms at all.
- The spread of the virus has been linked to thousands of birth defects (microcephaly) thus prompting countries to advise pregnant women against going to the areas where it has been detected.
- If you are not a woman of childbearing age who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant, the Zika virus is unlikely to cause you any serious trouble.
- There is no vaccine or cure for Zika.
- There have been no deaths attributed to the Zika virus. Hospitalization as a result of Zika is uncommon.
- Zika cannot be transmitted person to person or through the air, food, or water.
- There have been no deaths so far attributed to the Zika virus.
- Zika may be transmitted from person to person via sexual contact. Read more here.
When traveling to countries where Zika virus or mosquitoes-related illness are found are found, travellers are advised to take the following steps:
- Stay informed about the Zika virus as it develops
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, socks and shoes.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net.
- Use insect repellents and reapply as directed. If also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
At ATLAS, we take the health of our clients AND the global public health risks associated with Zika very seriously. However, at this time we believe that rigorous application of standard anti-mosquito measures (long sleeves, repellent, mosquito nets for sleeping, etc) lower infection risks for most travellers to tolerable levels.
At this time, we have no reports of guests, guides, lodge hosts, or staff being infected by Zika.
Bear in mind that tropical, mosquito-borne diseases are nothing new in this part of the world and that Zika is just one of many health considerations any traveller should consider when venturing into this region.
That said, we join with the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization in recommending that pregnant women postpone travel to Latin America at this time.
Country updates from ATLAS members
Update from PureBrasil
• No known cases of Zika with any of our passengers
• Avoid mosquito bites by using repellent as one naturally does during a visit to the Tropics
• Pregnant women should contact their doctor prior to departure and consider cancelling their trip in accordance with CDC/WHO advice.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.
In response, CDC has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
Is it safe to travel to affected regions?
Until more is known, and out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends special precautions only for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:
Pregnant women in any trimester or women trying to become pregnant should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first.
What’s happening “on the ground” in Brazil?
Brazilian government announced that will use army forces against the zika virus :
Find below the areas where the cases have been reported and the number of of babies that where born with the syndrome :
After summer the incident of bites reduces a lot but it is still important to prevent the bites as usual Pure Brasil urges all tour passengers to travel sensibly, and to take preventive measures against mosquito bites, as one naturally does when traveling in the Tropics. Even if Zika is generally mild, no one wants to become ill on holiday. Any passenger who is pregnant or think they may become pregnant during or prior to their trip should contact their doctor and consider cancelling their trip in accordance with CDC/WHO advice.
Some information and text in this update is directly copied from the CDC website. For complete information about the Zika virus please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) websites:
More news :
Update from Coast to Coast Adventures
Costa Rica has only had two confirmed cases of Zika infections, both of them contracted by people returning from abroad. According to the Costa Rican Health Ministry, the infected men were recovering at home in San Jose, the capital. A team was dispatched to fumigate immediately the areas in hopes of wiping out mosquitoes that could bite them and pass the virus on to others and currently they are doing fogging exercises across the country, as well as health and environmental education on how to prevent contracting Zika.
Also, as part of efforts to combat the virus, the Ministry of Health is using the bacterium “Spinosad” to counteract the vector. This bacterium works on larvas via ingestion and contact and kills them within 48 hours
Press Release No. 014
Ecuador is prepared to battle the presence of the Zika Virus by applying strategies and prevention campaigns all around the country.
This, with the main purpose to preserve the health of citizens that move through all the territory, as to avoid the spread of the virus. In this sense, the national governmental instances, in coordination with sectional authorities, have intensified the control actions and epidemic vigilance in the country.
One of them is to fumigate in places identified as possible hatcheries for mosquitoes Aedes aegypti, the virus transmitters. So far, there have not been Zika cases reported in 18 of the 24 provinces of Ecuador.
The confirmed cases in the country, between October 2015 and January 2016, are under medical supervision, for which the Ministry of Public Health started a Preparedness and Response Plan.
The Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador recommends travelers to keep informed and follow the recommendations that are communicated by health organizations.
Update from Wilderness Explorers in Georgetown, Guyana – Guyana has only had one confirmed cases of Zika. After the diagnosis was made, the vector control department immediately swung into action. Every single member of her family was tested while malathion was simultaneously applied to the entire neighbourhood in the form of spray.
Currently there are going fogging exercises being done across the country, distribution of treated mosquito nets for pregnant women as well as health and environmental education on how to prevent contracting Zika. THe authorities have been consistently applying that chemical [malathion] in the form of fog which goes air borne very quickly while combating breeding zones on, or close to the ground. Additionally, the national vector control team has extended its environmental programme.
The Ministry of Telecommunications and Tourism has released a public announcement regarding the Zika virus. The release – titled, Guyana Adopts a Multi-Sectoral Approach to Keep the Zika Virus Out of Guyana can be downloaded as a PDF document here.
The Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana is encouraging members to participate in a webinar recording from the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association: The Facts About Zika and How to Mitigate It’s Impact
Get more information from Wilderness Explorer’s Zika upate page here.
The Mexico Tourism Board reported that the Zika virus infection is a new and emerging disease in the country with only a minimal number of cases identified. Epidemiologic studies have found that the virus is under control in the country. With very few cases identified and containment efforts in place the tourism industry in Mexico has not been affected and is not at risk.
Within Journey Mexico, we have no known cases of Zika with any of our passengers or staff members and guides. We continue to monitor the situation specific to Mexico. At this time, there have been few reported cases overall.
We advise, as always, to travel sensibly and take precautions to avoid getting mosquito bites as they can also transmit other diseases like dengue. We are only recommending that pregnant women consider visiting Mexico at another time in accordance with CDC/WHO advice. If you arer considering Mexico as a destination for future travel, we recommend purchasing travel insurance.
For more information as it develops, visit our blog; Zika in Mexico – What You Need to Know
Update from Oro Travel
To date there has been no travel advisory against visiting Nicaragua because of Zika. The America Center For Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel alert (Level 2 – Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Nicaragua is not part of this advisory, however, in the Central American region general precautions should be taken. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites including using insect repellent, protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and sleeping in screened in or air-conditioned rooms. For the latest updates on countries affected by Zika virus, please visit the World Health Organization’s website.
- No native cases of the Zika virus in Peru
- Prevented the propagation of the virus in the country
Update from Lares Travel
As of today, Uruguay has not been affected by Dengue nor the the Zika Virus and no imported or local cases of Zika have been detected within the country´s territory.
Despite this fact, many preventive measures are being taken and the Ministry of Public Health is advising to use repellent, long clothes and sleep in appropriate places to avoid contact with the mosquito Aedes Aegypti.