Travellers Are Warned about the Dreaded Zika Virus

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mosquito carrying zika virus February 2016

Mosquitoes might not be able to carry the HIV virus, but they are responsible for carrying malaria – which can be deadly – and now they are the carriers of the Zika virus.  Yet, despite this virus being a terrible threat in mosquito-ridden areas, the World Health Organisation has failed to impose any restrictions on trade or travel.

That being said, WHO has warned travellers to stay away from areas which have become associated with the virus.  This has forced travel companies to try to keep their losses at a minimum by making it easy for travellers to reschedule or change their travel plans.

This is probably all for the best, though, because increasing cases have proved that the Zika virus is a serious threat.

The Zika Virus Explained

The Zika virus may have been known since the 1950s, but its recent prominence is quickly making it one of the most feared viruses on Earth.  This is because it doesn’t affect those afflicted with it greatly, but it is believed to be a cause of a particular birth defect that leads to irregular or underdeveloped skulls in new-born babies.

Pregnant women who are bitten by mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus may only have a mild fever, or no symptoms at all, yet their unborn children might be subject to microcepahly – the aforementioned birth defect.

Travel Companies Try to Protect Travellers from the Zika Virus

Because of the serious risk to pregnant women, companies associated with the travel industry are doing everything within reason to help protect travellers from the Zika virus.

The Hyatt and Hilton hotels located in risk areas are allowing customers to cancel their bookings without incurring fees.  Similarly, the Wyndham and Marriott hotels are looking at each case individually, although are being very generous with their fee waivers.

Various airlines are also waving their fees when it comes to cancellations or changes to flight bookings for flights into areas affected by the Zika virus, within specific time frames.  American Airlines is allowing pregnant women to cancel their tickets, as long as they provide a doctor’s note.  United, on the other hand, has waived the fee without limitations in order to protect its passengers from the virus.

Should People Be Afraid?

The circumstances surrounding this virus are certainly not to be taken lightly, but doctors urge people not to panic.  If travellers are able to avoid mosquito bites, they shouldn’t be discouraged from keeping their travel plans.  There is also the fact that not every case of the virus has led to microcephaly.

However, travellers who prefer to be safe rather than sorry should possibly consider taking advantage of the travel industries policies regarding the virus, and wait until the virus has been contained.

Image credit: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/15/zika-3/

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