Mapped: 20 countries where travellers are at risk from the Zika virus
HPSC Travel Advice
Published 29/01/2016 | 15:00
The Department of Foreign Affairs has updated its travel advice for 20 countries in response to the Zika virus outbreak.
The countries (see map) are in South and Central America, where the virus is "spreading explosively" according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO has now declared Zika a global health emergency, just the fourth time in history that it has raised its highest alarm level.
Zika is a disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, similar to Dengue Fever, with flu-like symptoms including fever, rash and joint pain.
There are concerns that infection during pregnancy may be linked with microcephaly, a foetal abnormality in babies, although a direct link has not been confirmed.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, said:
"While the risk is low in most cases, I would particularly urge pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant to consider postponing their travel to affected areas and to consult with their healthcare provider before travel.”
There is no treatment or cure for Zika.
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Travellers are advised to prevent mosquito bites by wearing mosquito repellent, long sleeves, trousers and hats, and by using physical barriers such as screens, mosquito nets, and closing doors and windows.
The current outbreak dates back to May of 2015 in Brazil, but has since spread rapidly, with almost all of Latin America affected.
The Department of Foreign Affairs issued its first travel advisory on the virus last December, alerting citizens to the outbreak in Brazil.
It has now updated its travel advisories for 20 countries (see map).
According to the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), the following countries are experiencing either "an increasing or widespread" transmission of the virus, or "sporadic transmission" following its recent introduction:
Brazil, Bolivia, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia, Suriname, French Guiana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Martinique, Guyana, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Paraguay, Barbados, Saint Martin, Haiti, Dominican Republic, US (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands).
Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica, Peru, Uruguay and several Caribbean islands are not currently on the list.
No locally transmitted Zika cases have been reported in the continental United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers, and these are likely to increase, according to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control advice is here.
NB: This story/map will be updated to reflect developments.