ZIKA VIRUS: Inland travelers sticking with travel plans – Press-Enterprise

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ZIKA VIRUS: Inland travelers sticking with travel plans

 Tony Wiley, owner of Wiley's SCUBA Locker in Riverside, said none of the divers on upcoming trips to Roatán want to bail because of the Zika virus, which resorts say is not on the Caribbean island. In this photo, Wiley works on his 38-foot sailboat, Magic, at Yacht Haven Marina in Wilmington in October.


Tips to avoid the virus while traveling include:

• Pick lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors.

• If outside or in a room that’s not well-screened, sleep under World Health Organization-approved mosquito netting: compact, white, rectangular, with 156 holes per square inch and long enough to tuck under the mattress.

• Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Treat clothes with permethrin or another Environmental Protection Agency-registered insecticide for extra protection.

• If using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first, then bug repellent.

• Traveling? Get country-specific travel recommendations: cdc.gov/travel

A dozen Inland divers are almost ready to pack their bags and scuba gear for Roatán.

To their relief, the tropical island off Honduras – famous for its spectacular coral reef diving and nearby whale sharks – isn’t known as a Zika virus hotspot.

From divers preparing for Caribbean scuba trips to honeymooners planning a Belize adventure, Zika is on Inland travelers’ minds. Yet that doesn’t mean they’re cancelling their plans.

Dive instructor-trainer Tony Wiley, owner of Wiley’s SCUBA Locker in Riverside, said the divers he’s leading on two trips to the Central American island in late April and early May want the trips to go ahead as planned.

They’re all seasoned explorers who have traveled with the former U.S. Navy diver to other exotic dive spots.

“None of my customers hesitated one second,” Wiley said. “When you’re going to a Third World country, you’re subject to dengue and Montezuma’s revenge and any number of things.”


The World Health Organization declared Zika to be a global health emergency earlier this month. Nine deaths believed to be Zika-related have been reported since early February in Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia.

The virus is believed to be spread primarily by mosquitoes. Zika is suspected of causing microcephaly in babies, leaving them with small heads and brains, and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis. The number of Guillain-Barré cases are climbing in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador and Suriname, countries with Zika outbreaks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the European organization advise pregnant women to delay travel to any of the 32 countries and territories with active Zika. The virus may be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

The Centers have given South and Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Pacific Islands and Africa’s Cape Verde an “Alert Level 2,” advising travelers to guard against mosquito bites and use condoms after the disease has been passed from men to women during sex at least twice in the U.S.

Not wanting to put customers at risk, Wiley researched the virus and its prevalence in Honduras, then called a doctor and two Roatán resorts before talking to the divers.

Honduras appears to be fifth-highest among countries with Zika, behind Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and El Salvador, according to the Pan American Health Organization’s Feb. 18 report.

Mosquitoes aren’t usually an issue on the “windy” side of Roatán, where the group will stay in over-the-water bungalows with screened windows and air conditioning. There are no known Zika cases there, and none of the divers is pregnant or planning to be, Wiley said.

“On the island, it doesn’t seem to be a problem,” he said.

About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus get sick. In most cases, symptoms are mild.

ZIKA VIRUS: Inland travelers sticking with travel plans – Press-Enterprise