The Zika Virus – Important Information

Posted by on February 12th, 2016

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The Zika virus has recently been in the news, and we want to summarize the relevant available information for our travelers. If you’ve booked a trip or are thinking of booking a trip to South America with us, please read on!

The summary version with regard to our destinations is as follows: There is a travel advisory for pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant in the countries of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador, and for partners/spouses of women who are pregnant or potentially pregnant. There is no travel advisory for any other parts of the population. There are no travel advisories for anyone to Peru, Chile, Argentina or Uruguay. If you have any questions about Zika with regard to your trip and destinations you will be visiting, please just let us know.

What is the Zika virus?

Zika is a mosquito-borne illness transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. The Aedes mosquito has distinctive black and white markings on its body and legs and is found in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. The Zika virus was first reported in 1947 in Uguanda and spread slowly across Africa to Asia, the South Pacific and now Latin America. The Zika virus has been around for decades, and its reach is very limited compared to several other mosquito-borne illnesses in many of these locations, such as dengue, malaria, and yellow fever. 4 out of 5 people who contract the virus never show any symptoms at all. For those who do, symptoms typically appear 2 to 7 days after being infected, and can include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. What has mainly put Zika in the headlines is the possible connection between Zika and birth defects in children born to women who contracted the virus while pregnant.

Who does the travel advisory affect and to which destinations?

The CDC has issued a travel advisory to certain destinations for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, and to partners/spouses of women trying to become pregnant. We of course recommend following this travel advisory to the countries listed for people in these circumstances. Among our destinations, that includes Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador.

There is no travel advisory for any part of the population apart from pregnant women or those who may soon become pregnant, or partners/spouses of women who are pregnant or potentially pregnant, and no travel advisory of any kind for people going to Peru, Chile, Argentina or Uruguay.

Where has the Zika virus been found?

The virus is mainly found in low elevation tropical areas. There have been no reported cases of active transmission of the virus in Argentina, Peru, Chile, or Uruguay. There have been 1 or 2 instances of the disease arriving to Peru via people who contracted it elsewhere. For those going to Ecuador and the Galapagos, Zika is not reported in Quito, the common gateway to fly to the Galapagos; the elevation in Quito (9,000 feet) is too high for mosquitoes. There have been a few dozen cases (as of this writing) in the coastal areas of the mainland, where our travelers rarely go. The Galapagos has quite stringent environmental policies, including fumigation of all planes arriving from the mainland, and is geographically isolated from the mainland.

At Vaya we will, of course, continue to follow the news about Zika and update our travelers with any new and pertinent information. We also recommend that anyone concerned about Zika speak with their doctor or a travel health clinic prior to traveling. Again, if you have any specific questions about Zika with regard to your trip and the destinations you will be visiting, please just let us know.

Where can I find more information?

World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): http://www.cdc.gov/zika/

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