Zika virus reports from some countries in Caribbean

Several tourist destinations in the Caribbean are reporting continued transmission of the Zika virus. These include the Cayman Islands (Georgetown), the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands (all three islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John), and Puerto Rico which is the most affected with thousands of cases.

Advice

Nearly all the islands in the Caribbean have reported local transmission of the Zika virus at one time or another. The absence of reports from other countries does not mean there is no transmission of Zika virus there. The risk of exposure to this virus may be high but it is difficult to estimate for the general traveller in any particular location 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 with 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,