It seemed to come out of nowhere this Zika virus did.
A couple of early news bits here and then about a new virus brought to us by mosquitoes, the irritating insect that brought us the Malaria disease that has effected millions, and still is a scourge of nations.
Then as a short time passed news that this new virus was have a more dramatic effect on pregnant women, and to those who weren’t even pregnant but were thinking of becoming pregnant soon.
In these women it can bring on the birth defect microcephaly, which can result in babies born with abnormally smaller heads.
Just last month, in December of 2015 the disease was found to have spread throughout a number of countries in the Americas.
Included in these countries are many we choose as our primary sunspots, countries like Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Barbados just to name a few.
At the time of this writing here are many of the countries listed as affected.
|Barbados Bolivia Brazil Colombia Dominican Republic Ecuador El Salvador French Guiana||Guadeloupe Guatemala Guyana Haiti Honduras Martinique Mexico||Panama Paraguay Puerto Rico Saint-Martin Suriname U.S. Virgin Islands Venezuela|
Now the World Health Organization (WHO) has jumped in with a warning that the Zika virus is spreading explosively in the Americas. They project 4 million people may catch the virus by the end of 2016.
They appear to be on the verge of declaring a world-wide public health emergency.
Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the W.H.O., said, “The level of alarm is extremely high.”
The effect on travel has been immediate.
Already airlines in the United States and Canada have instituted cancellation policies and insurance companies are beginning to address what their cancellation policies will be.
For the most part the airlines will allow full cancellation based on notes from doctors saying his or her patient could be at risk.
Each airline has slightly different wording so you need to check your specific airlines website.
For people who have booked cruises the cancellation policies are still murky except for the Carnival Corporation who have released statements saying all Carnival brands will allow pregnant passengers and their travelling companions to cancel in exchange for a future cruise credit at a later date.
Insurance policy holders may be faced with a different dilemma. Since there would have to be level 3 alerts before trip cancellation would come into effect and this may become a confusing process until the various Public Health Agencies finalize the level of danger this presents.
Then we will see how insurance companies, who don’t relish refunds, react to the new realities facing them.
This outbreak will change the face of travel for years to come. The mosquito that causes the virus, like the one that spreads malaria, does not appear to be in any of the cooler winter northern countries.
These will become the new frontiers of travel. The prized sunspot destinations that we have come to take for granted may become the haven for those whose child bearing days are past.
No vaccine is yet in site and those may take years to develope and test.
In the meantime all women of child bearing age need to seriously consider how they wish to consider choosing their vacation destinations.