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Should I be concerned by the Zika virus?

I’m planning a trip to Brazil in the next few months and I’ve seen so much in the news about the Zika virus that I’m starting to wonder if I should be concerned at all... I’m in my 50s and I’ll be travelling with my grown up daughters. Answered by Stuart Whittington


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I’m planning a trip to Brazil in the next few months and I’ve seen so much in the news about the Zika virus that I’m starting to wonder if I should be concerned at all... I’m in my 50s and I’ll be travelling with my grown up daughters.

Asked by Alison


The short answer is that, in general terms, the health risk of travelling to Latin America is little-changed for most travellers. In April 2016 a confirmed link between the Zika virus and abnormalities in pregnancy was announced. Generally the risk should only be of concern to those who are, or may be, pregnant while travelling as well as those with chronic illness or immune system disorders.

In the main, travelling to Latin America following the rise of the Zika virus is no different to before it hit the headlines:  Based on current knowledge this virus poses no greater threat to most visitors than other mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue or malaria found in tropical regions around the world.  It is also worth bearing in mind that the number of confirmed cases is not generally high in areas frequented by tourists.

For the countries where cases of Zika have been confirmed, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office states:

You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. 

So, if you or your daughters are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, or if any of you have a severe chronic illness or immune system disorder then there may be reason to postpone your holiday. If, however, none of these circumstances apply to you and your family then - based on the current information available - there should be no reason to be unduly concerned about your trip.

For much more information on Zika in Latin America, read Journey Latin America's Zika virus information page, which we try to keep as up to date as possible. We would also encourage you obtain the most balanced and up to date health information directly from expert authorities such as those listed below.
o UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
o UK National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC)
o NHS Scotland
o Public Health England
o European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC)
o The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)
o US Centre for Disease Control (CDC)
o The World Health Organisation (WHO)
o American Red Cross

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Answered by Stuart Whittington
Travel Consultant


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