Zika Virus: What Travelers Need to Know
Over the last several weeks, concerns about the mosquito-borne Zika virus have grown as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced increased travel warnings for pregnant women.
The Zika virus has not only been connected to birth defects in newborns whose mothers have been infected by the illness, but there are also now strong indications that the virus could be tied to a rare paralysis syndrome called Guillain-Barre.
As more cases of the virus have been discovered, the CDC has expanded the list of countries affected and subsequently updated the travel warnings. The countries and areas under a travel warning include Barbados, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
In response to the warnings issued, the travel industry has acted quickly and compassionately. From an airline perspective, United Airlines and American Airlines acted first, offering refunds to pregnant women who had previously scheduled flights to countries affected by the virus.
Since then, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Lufthansa and many other airlines have started to offer refunds or rebookings to customers impacted by the travel warnings.
On the other hand, cruise operators like Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises are all working with pregnant customers who have previously booked a trip to areas affected by the Zika virus. Many of the cruise lines are allowing the women to reschedule their voyages for a later date.
Travelers must continue to follow the news, as the World Health Organization announced Thursday that it expects the Zika virus to impact between three million and four million people cross the world.
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