Latest on the Zika Virus

Anyone travelling or planning a trip will of course want to know more about the Zika virus. It has recently exploded onto global recognition with Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadelope, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Mattin, Suriname, Venezuaela all having confirmed cases.

While yes it is serious with links to microcephaly and malformations of newborns, the majority of non-pregnant visitors only 1 in 4 will experience any symptoms at all. The symptoms consist of fever, headache, joint pain and a rash which can last between two and seven days.  If you contract Zika virus WHO recommends rest and to keep your fluids up.  In that sense therefore you shouldn’t panic too much about your trip and just make sure you do what you can to prevent a mosquito bite - tucking your socks in, using insecticide, insect screens/mosquito nets (for more details see trip advisor/WHO). Furthermore, make sure you use a condom even when you have returned from your trip especially for the initial 28 days if you did not contract Zika virus and for six months following recovery if you did contract the virus.

However the situation is more serious if you are pregnant. It is recommended that you should not travel to infected areas especially in your first trimester. In these cases many airlines such as Virgin Atlantic are allowing you to change your flights to another destination and health insurance should also cover any cancelled plans.

Overall, the Zika virus is definitely something to be aware of but remember that it has been around for years and has not taken precedence over other diseases such as Dengue Fever where, for the majority of the non-pregnant population, the symptoms are more severe than those faced by the Zika virus. 

Written by Lisa Earnshaw