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Published on May 12th, 2017 | by Guest Contributor

Zika Virus Impact on Canadians – Should You Alter Your Summer Travel Plans?

Remember the Zika virus? The mosquito-borne infection made international headlines around the time of last summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Well, it hasn’t gone away. New research shows that not only is Zika still an ongoing concern, but also that the health effects on Canadians have been more serious than previously thought.

A study published in March in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found more cases of infection for Canadians who had travelled to the Caribbean and South and Central America than expected. The study also found that their symptoms were more severe.

Symptoms of the Zika virus usually include conjunctivitis (pink eye), fever, skin rash, headaches and joint pain. However, in some cases, Zika can lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which is an illness of the nervous system that damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and even paralysis.

A Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause the baby to have severe brain malformations and other birth defects. The infection has caused severe birth defects in nearly 30 countries, including Latin America and the Caribbean.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus. It is usually spread by two species of mosquitoes that are found in warm, tropical climates. Consequently, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that pregnant women and those who are planning to become pregnant avoid travel to certain countries and specific areas in the U.S. (this includes Florida and Texas) where the Zika virus has been reported.

Protect Yourself.

If you must travel to affected regions, you should protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. Unlike the mosquitoes here, the species that carry the Zika virus bite during the day as well as in the evening and at night. Protect yourself by wearing light coloured clothing that covers as much of the body as possible, keep doors and window screens closed and consider sleeping under a mosquito screen. Here are some more tips to prevent mosquito bites.

Also, be aware that the Zika virus can be spread through sexual intercourse. Travellers are urged to use condoms during their trip and for several months afterwards.

Opt for Travel Insurance.

Always make sure you’re properly insured for your travels. Although Singapore recently introduced “Zika Insurance” that option hasn’t made its way over the North America yet. Some airlines and travel providers are allowing pregnant women who had booked trips to Zika-affected areas to cancel or reschedule their flights, but policies vary. Be sure to enquire with your service provider.

While a typical travel insurance policy won’t cover cancelling a trip merely because you’re worried about the conditions of your destination, an option you could consider if pregnancy is planned or if it is a possibility around the time of your trip is a “cancel-for-any-reason” (CFAR) policy. This can be more expensive, but it offers you a full reimbursement of your fare should you decide not to travel for any reason at all.

Consider Zika-free Canadian Travel.

Alternately, perhaps you could view this as another reason to make some great travel memories closer to home this year. While Zika-affected areas of the Caribbean, Central America and the southern U.S. are among some of the most popular travel destinations for Canadians, fortunately the specific species of mosquito that carries the virus cannot survive in the Canadian climate.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, the federal government is offering free admission to all national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas run by Parks Canada from coast to coast. Make sure to pick up your free 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass before travelling and check out these five Canadian parks to visit this summer. 

For peace of mind and a stress-free travel experience, the most important thing you can do is stay protected with CAA Travel Insurance. Plan ahead and spend your vacation building memories, not costly medical bills. With any of our annual plans, CAA Members get coverage anywhere within Canada.

CAA Travel Insurance offers a variety of travel insurance plans to suit your travel needs and all of our plans come with great benefits:

  • Save with CAA’s Annual Plans for 4-day, 8-day, 15-day or 30-day coverage options starting at just $40.05!1
  • Enjoy unlimited coverage within Canada.
  • Emergency Medical Coverage up to $5 million CAD.2

Plus, CAA Members save 10% on their CAA Travel Insurance purchase3. Get a quote today.

+ Terms and Conditions

CAA Travel Insurance is underwritten by Orion Travel Insurance Company. Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions apply. Subject to change without notice. A Medical Questionnaire may be required to purchase travel insurance. Quotes are valid for 30 days.

1 Price of a 4-day Multi-Trip Annual Plan per adult under age 60 with the CAA Member savings. Multi-Trip Annual Plans cover 4, 8, 15 or 30 days per trip, depending on the Plan you purchased. Convenient Top-Up coverage is available for longer trips. The Multi-Trip Annual Plan and any Top-Up may never extend beyond 365 days from departure date or effective date. The 4 and 8-day plans do not apply to Multi-Trip Annual Vacation Packages.
2 Up to $5 million CAD. Maximum $25,000 for all Emergency Medical Insurance benefits if at time of claim: a) your GHIP (government health insurance plan) coverage was lapsed; and/or b) you did not have GHIP authorization to cover your trip days exceeding the days GHIP covers outside your province or territory of residence.
*Policy conditions and limitations apply.
3 Applies to CAA Members in good standing (CAA Membership of South Central Ontario Territory (282) dues paid in full by membership expiry date). Ten percent (10%) savings applies to the total premium excluding applicable taxes. Minimum premium applies. Subject to change without notice. This savings does not extend to Visitors to Canada Insurance.

© 2017 CAA South Central Ontario. All rights reserved. Serving Members in Southern and Central Ontario.
® CAA trademarks owned by, and use is authorized by, the Canadian Automobile Association.

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