EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — The Zika virus has been found in more than 30 countries, many of which are popular vacation destinations – and the Centers For Disease Control are urging travelers to take caution.
Call 12 For Action wanted to know if the threat of illnesses is affecting travel plans.
According to local travel agents, many clients are going ahead with their plans – despite the fact that the World Health Organization recently declared Zika a public health emergency.
Matt Balsamo of Donovan Travel in East Greenwich said the travel alerts in places like Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic aren’t deterring many travelers.
“When clients call about the disease, we’re educating them, exactly what it is, who is at risk so they can make an educated decision,” Balsamo said. “Whether or not they want to change their travel plans or not.”
A survey of 11,000 people by Travel Leaders Group found that an overwhelming majority of people are still traveling to destinations on the CDC’s travel alert list.
The CDC is recommending that pregnant woman and woman trying to become pregnant avoid traveling to affected areas because of the possible link between the virus and birth defects.
For those looking to cancel their travel plans, there are several options.
“Many airlines are now offering waivers to change a reservation or to put in for a refund completely,” Balsamo said. “Some of the cruise lines are allowing people to change their travel plans.”
According to the CDC, for people who plan to travel to places impacted by Zika, it is important to protect against mosquito bites. Travelers should make sure to cover exposed skin with long sleeve shirts and pants – and make sure to use insect repellant.