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Zika Virus: Addressing it with your clients

Written by  Douglas Cooke

DougThe fear of Zika is very real for your clients considering a trip to the areas affected by it, primarily the Caribbean, Mexico and Central/South America. I am experiencing this concern first hand as my daughter is considering a destination wedding in 2017.
To discount this threat would be irresponsible because it is real, and the risk it poses for a pregnant woman and her unborn child are scary. However, the likelihood of your clients contracting this illness are negligible and there are steps that can be taken to ensure your clients have a Zika free vacation.

The Facts
In 2015, almost 20 million US travelers visited the infected areas. As of June 2016, according to the CDC, there are 820 active cases of Zika in the US that were travel related. In other words, there is less than one thousandth of 1% chance of contracting the virus. As awareness grows and additional precautions are taken, these numbers are likely to decrease.

What to advise your clients
Most people know that Zika is a mosquito borne illness and is related to yellow fever. Many might assume that as long as they take the proper precautions during prime mosquito bite time, late afternoon/dusk, they will be OK. In actuality, the mosquito known to carry the virus is most active during the day and more active inside than outside. So, what are the best precautions to take when traveling in these regions? According to the CDC, use an EPA-approved repellent over sunscreen, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts thick enough to block a mosquito bite, and sleep in an air-conditioned, screened room. As long as people follow these precautions, the likelihood of contracting the illness are virtually zero. Of those who may be bitten by an infected mosquito, only 1 in 5 people will develop any symptoms and those are typically mild and temporary.
Of course, the disease does pose a threat to women who are pregnant or may become pregnant and that should not be taken lightly. In fact, despite the infinitesimal chance of contracting the disease, pregnant women would be the one group who may be well advised not to travel to these regions during their pregnancies. For your other clients interested in travel to these areas, I would address the issue head-on and encourage them to learn the facts regarding contracting the disease, and advise them to take the precautions noted. A well informed traveler will most likely make the decision that the rewards of traveling to these beautiful regions, for vacation or for a destination wedding, far outweigh the odds of contracting this condition.

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