You may have already heard the hysteria about the Zika virus.
A mosquito-born disease that has been reported across South and Central America, the Caribbean and the US Virgin Islands. If you have booked a trip to the continent or are planning to attend the 2016 Olympics then here’s our travel guide to the Zika virus:
How normal is this?
Very normal actually. Mosquitoes have been carrying diseases for centuries. They carry dengue, malaria, elephantiasis, and chikungunya. Most of these viruses are much more deadly and dangerous than the latest outbreak of Zika. What’s more, SARS in 2003, MERS in 2012, and Ebola in 2014 were also a lot worse.
What is the Zika virus?
Right now, we don’t have all of the information. The World Health Organisation and the US Centers for Disease Control are studying the disease and learning more all the time. There is currently no vaccine or a cure, however, it isn’t fatal, and most people who have the virus do not know they have it and show very few symptoms. Complications of the virus are the only worrying part. These are thought to cause Gullian-Barre syndrome – a neurological disease that can lead to paralysis, and can cause birth defects in unborn babies.
However, these complications happen very rarely. Most people who contract the virus don’t get any symptoms, and most of the people that do (one in five) feel symptoms like fever, a body rash, and conjunctivitis that clear from the body after around two to seven days.
Should I still go on holiday? What about the Olympics?
At the moment, the virus is affecting two dozen countries in South and Central America, US Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. The group of people that are of the highest concern to the WHO are pregnant women, because there is a concern that the virus may cause microcephaly in unborn babies – a disease that stops babies’ brains from growing.
Secondly, the group are also concerned about the high numbers of people who are set to travel to Brazil for the Olympics this year. Brazil is one of the places that is most affected by the virus, but there is plenty you can do to help prevent yourself from contracting the disease while you are away:
What you can do
- Check the Centers for Disease Control’s advice page about the disease
- Protect yourself from mosquitoes, that means wearing more than 20% deet and loose, long clothing
- If you are pregnant avoid travel to these regions
- If you are not pregnant and not trying to be then there is no reason not to continue your trip – however, if you have any concerns about anything always consult your doctor.
- Be aware than some travel insurance companies are not covering the loss of your trip, but some airlines might be – check your terms and conditions if you do plan to postpone your flight.
The chances of contracting the virus are still very slim, but ultimately it’s always best to check the status of the virus and be very careful if you are pregnant or trying to be this year.
By Charlotte H.
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