The 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.
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