At Aqua Expeditions, we take our guests’ health very seriously. We want to keep you up to date with the latest information available about the Zika virus.
November 18th, 2016 UPDATE: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the agency was changing the status of Zika from a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” to an ongoing, seasonal disease threat. The Zika virus, originally discovered in 1947, was historically considered a mild disease and mostly harmless as about 80 percent of people who are infected show no symptoms. Many infected with Zika also appear able to fight the disease off on their own.
The original WHO emergency was instituted in February 2016 in response to increasing Zika caseloads in Brazil with concurrent cases of microcephaly birth defects in newborns. The change in WHO status for Zika is due, in part, to the much lower rate of infections, death and deformities attributed to the Zika versus what was originally projected after the health emergency was declared.
While Zika still remains problematic in areas which have not yet been infected, public health experts point out that when a large portion of a population has been infected with a virus and has recovered, rising “herd immunity” usually ends the transmission of the virus for several years, until enough susceptible victims are born. Significant progress has also been made in the development of a Zika vaccine, now anticipated to be available as soon as 2018. With more than a dozen companies as well as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) vying for the prize of a successful vaccine, the race is on to bring a vaccine to market. An experimental DNA-based vaccine from NIH is already being tested in clinical trials with volunteers.
While recent Peru cases have increased in Iquitos leading to a city-wide fumigation eradication campaign by local authorities, the Peru Ministry of Health recently reported that Iquitos is the only Peruvian city in which cases continue to be detected in Peru in the last thirteen weeks. Other countries in South America continue to report decreasing numbers of Zika cases.
We at Aqua Expeditions prioritize the health and safety of each of our customers and employees on all of our cruises across the Amazon and the Mekong rivers.
We take precautions throughout the year to minimize the risk of any mosquitos on board and complimentary insect repellent is available for use on all our excursions. Our information packs and guides on board ensure our guests are prepared for every outdoor excursion and activity and our paramedic is on on-hand 24/7 in case, at any point, our guests require assistance.
All our ships operate with doors to the outside closed at all times and are fully air conditioned minimizing the risk of any mosquito infection on board. We also provide our guests with complimentary insect repellant for use on our excursions into the Amazon and recommend that they wear long sleeves and pants to minimize exposure to sun and insects when exploring the Amazon by skiff.
The CDC reports:
“It’s important to understand that the potential threat from Zika to most travelers versus to pregnant women is quite different. About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for only a few days to a week. The virus will not cause infections in an infant that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood. There is currently no evidence that Zika virus infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months, is very likely triggered by Zika in a small proportion of infections, much as it is after a variety of other infections. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent damage.
Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant.”
Zika Prevention Tips: Protecting Yourself Against Zika Infection
The CDC recommends when in areas with Zika spread by mosquitoes, that travelers take the following steps:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
- Always follow the product label instructions.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- To protect your child from mosquito bites:
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
- Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
- Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
- Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito net if you are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to their home country from an area where Zika is prevalent should ideally take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they do not spread Zika to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.
If you have any further concerns or questions, please contact [email protected]
We wish you happy travels and look forward to welcoming you on board.