The Zika virus

By | Category: Travel Advice & Contacts

Zika-virus_166x138_124827696The spread of the Zika virus has resulted in a lot of press coverage and the number of countries and destinations affected is rising.

The UK government is taking the situation sufficiently seriously to have announced that all flights coming into the UK from countries hit by the Zika virus will be sprayed with insecticides to stop the virus spreading. This is to kill any mosquitos which may have entered the aircraft at the point of departure. The spraying will be in both the passenger and the baggage hold areas of the plane. It is unlikely that the additional time spent spraying the aircraft will cause any delays.

Years ago, Australia used to spray the cabins of all incoming flights. You continued to sit in your seat when the plane pulled in at the gate whilst ground staff walked up and down the plane spraying the air whilst you kept your eyes looking down. The whole procedure took very little time.

Brazil is using the army to undertake vast spraying campaigns so that visitors are not put off visiting the Olympic Games being held in Rio de Janeiro this summer. Peru and Colombia are amongst other nations using wide-spread spraying measures.

As readers will know, the Zika virus, which is carried by mosquitos, is believed to cause abnormalities and brain damage in babies so pregnant women are the ones most at risk. The concern now is how far the mosquitos spread and whether the virus can be transmitted from one person to another. As far as I can see, there is a lot of conjecture and not a lot of hard fact as to transmission and some are arguing that there is still no cast-iron proven link between Zika and abnormalities since the virus has been around for many years. Why now, critics argue, do there seem to be more abnormalities.

Whatever the situation, holidaymakers travelling to South or Central America and the Caribbean should plan accordingly and any pregnant travellers are probably best advised to avoid those areas entirely. Nine cases have been found in the US state of Florida which has declared a health emergency in some counties. Other US states have recorded outbreaks but only from travelers who have been to South and Central America.

Until transmission details are proven, all other visitors to those areas are advised to use an insect repellent, wear long clothes and stay away from stagnant water. For the latest government advice, click here or go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/zika-virus.

 

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