Zika VirusThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added eight (8) more destinations to its recent Zika virus travel alert yesterday.

In addition to the 14 countries already on the CDC list (Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti , Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Suriname, and Venezuela), the CDC added these 8 more countries:

Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, St. Martin, Guyana, Cape Verde, and Samoa.

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) states that the move to add countries where a traveler could be injected "follows the CDC’s initial Jan 15 travel advisory recommending that pregnant women and those trying to become pregnant consider postponing travel to countries where Zika virus is circulating, and if they must travel to the destinations they should follow strict steps to avoid mosquito bites."

As we explained in our first article, there is a risk of to pregnant women of having a baby with a small, underdeveloped heads (microcephaly).

This latest development comes at a time when "three travellers who returned to the UK from South and Central America have been diagnosed with the Zika virus."

So far, we have heard of some cruise lines which are cruising to one of the countries subject to the CDC warning are refusing pregnant women to cancel their cruises.  We do not know whether those travel insurance companies are providing coverage when a pregnant cruiser cancels and submits a claim.

The CDC’s Recommendations for Pregnant Women Considering Travel to an Area of Zika Virus Transmission

Because there is neither a vaccine nor prophylactic medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, CDC recommends that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If a pregnant woman travels to an area with Zika virus transmission, she should be advised to strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite both indoors and outdoors, mostly during the daytime; therefore, it is important to ensure protection from mosquitoes throughout the entire day. Mosquito prevention strategies include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA – registered insect repellents, using permethrin-treated clothing and gear, and staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms. When used as directed on the product label, insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant women. Further guidelines for using insect repellents are available online (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites).

January 26, 2016 Update: The CDC added  the United States Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic to the list of destinations with Zika virus disease outbreaks.

Photo Credit: "Aedes aegypti CDC-Gathany" by James Gathany – PHIL, CDC. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons Wikipedia

  • Carol Nevarez

    On 1/28/16, at 7:22 am, I booked and paid for a 7-night cruise for my husband, daughter and myself and three of my daughter’s college-age friends on NCL Jade departing Houston on 2/27/16 through Vacations To Go. The ports of call are Cozumel, Belize City and Roatan.
    I also purchased travel insurance at the time of booking.
    At 9:14 am, the same day, I received an E-mail advisory from Vacations To Go. about the CDC issuing a travel alert for destinations with active outbreaks of the Zika virus.
    The news of the virus caused concern, and I was assured by the travel agency that the alert was primarily for pregnant women. Well, I have done further research and found that there is increased risk of developing Guillian-Barre syndrome if infected with the virus which can lead to paralysis. The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are aggressive during the day and night. The NCL cruise line will not allow me to change or cancel our cruise without penalties. And the travel insurance will not allow “cancellation for any reason.” If I had known that these ports were designated as Ziki outbreak areas prior to booking the cruise, I would have chosen another itinerary. After discovering the additional risk and danger of developing GBS if infected with the Zika virus, I am very concerned for the safety and health of my daughter and her three friends. What sort of recourse or remedy is there for me and the other passengers in our party?

  • Clarence

    It’s so devastating how quickly the virus can spread! My wife and I had booked a trip 3 months ago before the outbreak was so prevalent. We just got back from a 2 week trip surfing Samoa. We booked through tripadvisor and the cancellation fee was almost half of the cost of the entire trip so we decided to go. We were lucky that the virus wasn’t prevalent where we were staying.

    Here are some addition tips of how to avoid mosquito bites:

    • Empty and throw away or recycle old bottles, cans and plastic containers.

    • Clean gutters to allow proper drainage.
    Empty water from outside containers such as flower pots, vases and dishes.

    • Repair leaky water faucets, hoses and air conditioners to avoid stagnant puddles.

  • Rose Garcia

    Carol how did your trip go? I recently found out I was pregnant, but planned and paid for our tickets 2 months before. Now I’m not sure what it is I should do