Published on February 5th, 2016 | by Stefanie Polsinelli
Get the Facts About Zika Virus Before You Travel.
If you plan on travelling in the near future, make sure you know the facts about Zika virus before you leave – especially if you’re travelling to the countries impacted. This way, you’re better able to protect yourself and your trip. Not travelling any time soon? It’s still a good idea to stay informed since new developments on the virus are reported almost daily.
Facts About Zika Virus
- Most people infected with Zika won’t get sick.
Only one in five people infected with the Zika virus will show any symptoms. Symptoms can last from several days to a week.
- The virus is primarily transmitted through mosquitos.
There is no vaccine or medication that protects against Zika virus infection. Preventing mosquito bites (using insect repellant and mosquito nets, wearing clothing to cover up as much of your skin as possible, etc.) is the best way to protect yourself.
- There is a risk to pregnant women and women planning to get pregnant.
The infection has been linked to a rare congenital defect called microcephaly.
- Travellers should be aware of the risks.
Despite growing attention to Zika, neither domestic nor international health officials believe there is public health justification for restrictions on travel to prevent the spread of Zika virus. However, pregnant women should consider postponing their trip to Zika-affected regions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Should travellers consider cancelling their travel plans to Zika-affected countries?
The decision to cancel travel plans is a personal one. Travellers should always stay up-to-date with travel and health advisories to be able to make an informed decision. Most people infected with Zika won’t get sick. Nonetheless, travellers can protect themselves from the primarily mosquito-transmitted infection by taking measures to prevent mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against Zika virus infection.
We highly recommend that pregnant women, and those considering becoming pregnant, consult their health care provider to assess their risk and consider postponing travel to areas affected by Zika virus. If travel cannot be postponed, strict prevention measures against mosquito bites should be taken.
For the latest information, read the Government of Canada’s Zika virus infection: Global Update. Travellers should always visit the Government of Canada’s Travel and Tourism website for travel advisories and public health notices before going abroad.
- Why is there such worldwide concern?
As mentioned, despite growing attention to Zika, neither domestic nor international health officials believe there is public health justification for travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus. Instead, officials recommend that travellers to areas with Zika virus transmission be provided with up-to-date advice on potential risks and appropriate measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to mosquito bites.
There is a greater concern for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. There is a suspected link between the Zika virus infection in these women and children born with microcephaly – a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected and associated with developmental delays, among other complications.
- Which countries are impacted?
The latest outbreak affects most of South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. For a map of the areas currently affected, visit the Pan American Health Organization website.
Always make sure you’re properly insured for your travels. If you’re looking to buy travel insurance for an upcoming trip, choose a plan that will cover trip cancellation insurance. (If you’re buying CAA Travel Insurance1, that would be a Vacation Package plan.)
© 2017 CAA South Central Ontario
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