It’s the time of year that Canadians start planning their winter vacations in warmer climates.
But this year, due to the massive spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus throughout the Western Hemisphere (except for Canada), planning a vacation should involve some additional research.
Warnings to avoid travel to Zika affected countries or regions are primarily directed towards women who are pregnant, anticipating become pregnant, and their partners (see the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory at the end of this article).
For others, Zika is not a serious threat: 80 percent of people infected with the virus suffer no symptoms, and those who do may notice only mild fever, rash, fatigue, lasting a few days—not usually requiring medical care beyond the use of aspirin of acetaminophen.
Where is Zika active according to CDC current reporting? This does not include areas where residents have contracted the virus while travelling elsewhere, only where it has been transmitted locally.
Currently, locally-transmitted Zika is confined to two areas in Miami-Dade: the main tourism area of Miami Beach, south from NW 63rd St, including South Beach; and the Little Rivers area of northern Miami. All other areas of Florida are cleared, and with cooler, drier winter weather over most of the state, the threat of transmission expansion is unlikely.
CDC reports widespread Zika transmission throughout Mexico, especially in the lower level, non-mountainous regions (below 2000 meters)—that would encompass virtually all of the high tourism areas, except Mexico City.
All countries in the Caribbean have been designated by the CDC as “having mosquitos that are infected with Zika and spreading it to people.” This includes such highly-visited island countries as The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (not in the Caribbean but considered so by the tourism market), Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Barbados, St. Lucia, Haiti, Antigua, Aruba, both the British and the US Virgin Islands, Dominica, and all other islands in the Caribbean basin.
Central and South America
All countries south of the US border, except Chile and Uruguay have been designated as active for Zika. Since most of the countries in South America are now going into their warmer, wetter summer season, Zika can be expected to become even more prevalent.
Beyond the Americas
Zika transmission is prevalent in several of the Oceania/Pacific islands (not including Hawaii), and some travellers returning from Southeast Asia, and Africa have reported being infected. This includes: Samoa, Fiji, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. .)
Australia and New Zealand are clear of Zika.
Check the CDC country specific website for updates. Otherwise, prevention for Zika transmission as advised by the CDC includes:
|People Who Have Traveled to an Area with Zika|
|If you are pregnant||Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika. If you must travel to an area with Zika, talk to your healthcare provider. Learn more here.|
|If your partner is pregnant||Use condoms correctly, every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sexual intercourse or do not have sex for the entire pregnancy.|
|If you and your partner are planning a pregnancy||Discuss your plans for pregnancy with a healthcare provider to determine your risk and the options available. See suggested timeframes here.|
|If you or your partner are not pregnant and are not planning a pregnancy||Men: consider using condoms or not having sexual intercourse for at least 6 months after travel (if you don’t have symptoms) or for at least 6 months from the start of symptoms (or Zika diagnosis) if you develop Zika.
Women: consider using condoms or not having sexual intercourse for at least 8 weeks after travel (if you don’t have symptoms) or for at least 8 weeks from the start of symptoms (or Zika diagnosis) if you develop Zika.
Taken from the CDC’s website http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html
As you shop around for holiday wear, do the same with your insurance.