Zika declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico

In the past week, there have been almost 2,000 new cases of Zika virus infection on the island, for a total of almost 10,700 cases since the first one was reported last December. Because 4 out of 5 infected people have a mild illness or no symptoms at all, the actual number of cases may be as high as four times the official count. The US Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Zika Fever.

Advice For Travellers

The risk of exposure to this virus may be high. The risk of exposure for the general traveller in any particular location is difficult to estimate since so many infected people have no symptoms and are not recorded officially. There may be many infected people in the community.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for this infection. Travellers can minimize the risk of exposure by taking all necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

There is strong scientific evidence that this virus is the cause of microcephaly (small brain) and other neurological abnormalities in newborn infants. The World health Organization states that pregnant women should be advised not to travel to areas of Zika virus outbreaks. Pregnant women whose sexual partners live in or travel to areas with Zika virus outbreaks should ensure safe sexual practices or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy,