ZIKA VirusThe New York Times published an article yesterday that should alarm women who are pregnant and thinking about taking a cruise calling on ports in the Caribbean or South America or Central America. CDC May Warn Pregnant Women Against Travel to Countries With Zika Virus written by science and health reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr., says that test results from the CDC seems to establish a link between the mosquito-borne virus and Brazil’s rise in babies born with abnormally underdeveloped heads (microcephaly).

According to Helen Bramswell, an infectious diseases and public health reporter from STAT News, there have been  "at least 3,530 cases of microcephaly and 46 deaths in Brazil since the increasing number of cases was recognized last October. The country saw fewer than 200 cases of microcephaly annually over the previous five years." 

The CDC is thinking about issuing a warning for pregnant travelers against travel to Brazil, as well as other Latin American and Caribbean countries where the virus has spread.  According to the Times, the virus has been located in 14 countries in the Western Hemisphere: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti , Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Suriname, and Venezuela.   

The Times spoke to corporate communications representatives of Carnival. Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines who reportedly denied knowing anything about the Zika virus and directed inquiries to their trade association, the Cruise Line International Association.  CLIA suggestions include the same general things suggested to prevent the infection with the chikungunya virus – using mosquito repellents and wearing protective clothes.

According to Caribbean 360, the Zika virus was first detected in humans about 40 years ago in Uganda. It is spread by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito as dengue and chikunguya. The disease was first identified in the South Americas less than two years ago and has spread rapidly across South and Central America.

January 15 2016 Update: It’s Official. U.S. issues travel alert over Zika virus in Latin America, Caribbean.

January 16 2016 Update: CDC alert for Zika virus may curb Caribbean ‘babymoon’ vacations. "The CDC had been urging all travelers visiting areas of Latin America and the Caribbean to take extra precautions against mosquito bites to avoid contracting the virus. But officials upgraded the warning late Friday to a Level 2 travel notice and are now advising pregnant w.men and women trying to become pregnant to consider avoiding travel to the affected areas out of concern that Zika may cause a catastrophic birth defect called microcephaly.

"We likely will see a significant decline in trips by women who are pregnant or trying to conceive to these regions in light of the apparent link between the virus and birth defects,"

CBS Pregnant women warned about Zika virus

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Photo Credit: "Aedes aegypti CDC-Gathany" by James Gathany, CDC, licensed under Public Domain via Commons / Wikipedia.

  • Brittney

    Do you think a passenger who is pregnant would get a refund if the CDC adds a travel warning?

  • Yvonne

    I am pregnant and had a cruise scheduled with Princess cruise lines for this month in January of 2016. I cancelled because of the high risk of this virus and they were pretty strict and wouldn’t refund me my money.

  • Fernando

    Hi, my wife is in her second trimester and we have a cruise scheduled for Nassau (Bahamas). I don’t see Bahamas in the list of countries. Does this mean it’s safe to go there?

    Thank you,

  • Kayla Hendrickson

    My husband and i have a cruise booked through carnival for late March, when i will be about 21 weeks pregnant. Should we look into canceling the trip, we have travelers insurance, or just take extra precaution when traveling. we weren’t planning on doing any excursions outside the ship.

  • Petra

    Hi, we have been planning a Caribbean Honeymoon for a year. Our trip is in 2 weeks, with 2 stops in Mexico. Could anyone clarify what “trying to become pregnant” means?

  • folks folks folks! There plenty of pregnant women(my spouse being one) in the Caribbean and Latin American! Yes, its great to take precautions, however the CDC is ludicrous…..if it can issue a warning for Mexico, they might as well issue one for the states.

    Go on your cruise, your odds were probably better winning the historical powerball a few weeks ago than coming down with Zika! See you in Roatan soon!

  • al

    We have a cruise booked and I’ve been on around 10 cruises. Never have I seen a mosquito on one of the islands. They can’t fight the breeze on the ocean.my family is not cancelling because I’m not worried about it. We are going on a Princess cruise in the Caribbean in February.

  • Monique

    It’s a shame that cruise lines aren’t taking this serious. I had to cancel my cruise and was told, “But it’s JUST a warning.” I paid for travel insurance and found out it will not be covered because it’s not a “specific illness” per their insurance policy. Now, I’m out over $800 in penalties and have no family vacation this year.

  • RS

    Royal Caribbean won’t help! Had a family vacation booked but Royal Caribbean I guess likes to discriminate against pregnant women and their families. All they will offer is a short term credit for future mommy and daddy… But Royal Caribbean says the rest of the family has to go on the trip. Yet this was a family vacation. Royal Caribbean didn’t have a problem taking payment for the trip by a family member for all parties in the trip… So one party is fine to take our money, but now with this Zika issue we are suddenly all separate parties. My two cents… Don’t use Royal Caribbean for a family trip, choose one of their competitors who support families

  • Lorraine

    I will be cruising to the Caribbean on the 17th March on Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. I am 69 years old. Does normal mosquito repellent work?