There has been a lot of media attention around the Zika virus in the last few weeks. It is sometimes confusing to know what is fact, fiction or speculation so we have hope to help clarify the situation for our clients and anyone who might be considering traveling to Latin America.
What is the Zika virus?
Zika is a mosquito borne infection that was first identified in Africa in 1947. Outbreaks occur in some parts of Africa, South East Asia and the Pacific islands and in 2015 the first case was reported in Brazil. It has since spread to other Latin American countries and may spread beyond the region into other tropical areas.
Only 1 in 5 people who are infected display symptoms which are similar to mild flu and last between 2 and 7 days. Symptoms are similar to dengue which is also present in tropical areas throughout the world. Recently reports of an increase in congenital abnormalities have been reported in regions where Zika outbreaks have occurred. The link is yet to be proven but the World Health Organisaion (WHO) has issued temporary recommendations, which include special advice for pregnant women.
The World Health Organisation is not currently recommending restrictions on widespread travel or trade restrictions in relation to the Zika virus.
You should always discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider before traveling. In light of Zika the UK Foreign Office, Public Health England and the National Travel Health Network are stressing the importance of doing this if you are already pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Current recommendations are:
Not all Latin American countries are affected by Zika virus. A list of countries which currently have active transmission of the virus can be found on the UK Foreign Office website.
More information can be found here