If you pay attention to the news then I’m sure you’ve heard about Zika. It seems like a new news story about the virus is making the rounds at every turn. My husband and I decided to plan a family trip to Puerto Rico for late spring this year. We’d been excitedly picking our hotel, flights, and looking at lists of activities and things when news of Zika virus and it’s current – and imminent – spread through South and Central American.
As friends and family have learned of our travel plans, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about our plans to travel and the Zika virus. Along with trip insurance, we’re arming ourselves with knowledge, so we’ve been able to so far make decisions about our trip and answer questions – and concerns- about our trip as they roll in from loved ones.
So what is the Zika Virus? According to the Centers for Disease Control: “Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes).” Part of the reason for such concern in the news media over this outbreak is the possible link between Zika infection during pregnancy and cases of the birth defect Microcephaly. If you are pregnant and considering traveling, it is always best to consult your doctor before making travel plans. In the case of Zika, it is probably best to consult your doctor traveling and considering pregnancy in the near future. The Pan American Health Organization has stated that “pregnant women should be advised not travel to areas of ongoing Zika virus outbreaks; pregnant women whose sexual partners live in or travel to areas with Zika virus outbreaks should ensure safe sexual practices or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy.” Basically travel and the Zika virus and pregnancy should not be mixed.
With the exception of pregnant women and their partners currently, the PAHO has not recommend any travel restrictions related to Zika virus outbreaks. Although, all health agencies are suggesting taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
For us, because the illness is usually mild, and I am not pregnant and we do not have plans to become pregnant in the future as of now, we expect to go ahead with our trip to Puerto Rico as planned. Of course, as with many viruses, there is a chance of complications from infection. Because of this, we will continue to monitor the news and the recommendations from health organizations. Luckily, we have travel insurance, but we’re hoping we won’t need to use it.