Wednesday 17 January 2018

Irish families get green light for Disney World trips despite Florida Zika cases

File photo
File photo

Eilish O’Regan

Irish families bound for Florida’s Disney World should continue with their travels despite an outbreak of the Zika virus in a small part of the State, an infectious disease expert has advised.

However, women should avoid becoming pregnant while visiting the popular theme resort located in Orlando, said Professor Sam McConkey, head of the department of tropical medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons.

The virus has been linked to severe birth defects.

The alert in Florida comes after some 14 people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus, which they caught after being bitten by mosquitoes found in a small radius north of downtown Miami.

However, Miami is 236 miles from Orlando, where the resorts are, and no cases of the virus have emerged there.

Prof McConkey said women who were pregnant or thinking of pregnancy should not visit Miami if possible.

He pointed out that while the cases were so far confined to the Wynwood area of Miami, it was quite likely that the Zika virus could be transmitted in other parts of the United States.

“It is not that the mosquitoes would fly from Miami to Orlando,” Professor McConkey told the Irish Independent.

“However, mosquitoes can be infected after biting people with the Zika virus who have come from South and Central America.”

Women who visited the affected area in Miami since June 15 are advised not to become pregnant for eight weeks. Pregnant women who visited the area on or after this date should have a blood test to find out if they were exposed to Zika.

Read More: Two more mysterious Zika cases unrelated to travel under investigation in Florida

A spokeswoman for Sunway Holidays in Dublin said that it had not been contacted by any family booked for Disney World.

Visitors to Florida are being asked to check in advance the type of precautions they should take, such as insect repellent.

A spokeswoman for Florida’s theme parks said that they “have mosquito control down like no place else has."

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