Zika virus may be spreading rapidly in El Salvador

Since Zika virus first appeared in the country last November 2015, approximately 6,000 suspected cases have been identified, 2,500 of these since January 2016. Since about 80% of people infected with this virus have no symptoms and do not seek medical care where they can be counted, the actual number of infections may be as high as 30,000 people.

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

Advice For Travellers

As the virus spreads through the mosquitoes, the risk of exposure for the general traveller is difficult to estimate. Many infected people (up to 80%) are unaware that they are infected and do not seek medical care. Thus, they are not recorded officially.

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. Since infection with this virus usually causes no symptoms or a rather mild illness similar to flu, there may be many infected people in the community.

There is growing scientific evidence that this virus may be the cause of microcephaly (small brain) in newborn infants. As a precautionary measure, women who are pregnant in their first trimester should consider postponing travel to countries where this virus is spreading or, at a minimum, take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.