UPDATE 03-FEBRUARY-2016 The Ministry of Telecommunications and Tourism has released a public announcement regarding the Zika virus. The release – titled, Guyana Adopts a Multi-Sectoral Approach to Keep the Zika Virus Out of Guyana can be downloaded as a PDF document here.
UPDATE 02-FEBRUARY-2016 Guyana has only had one confirmed case of Zika. After the diagnosis was made, the vector control department immediately swung into action. Every single member of the patient’s family was tested while malathion was simultaneously applied to the entire neighbourhood in the form of spray.
Currently there are ongoing fogging exercises being done across the country, distribution of treated mosquito nets for pregnant women as well as health and environmental education on how to prevent contracting Zika. The authorities have been consistently applying malathion in the form of fog which goes air borne very quickly while combating breeding zones on, or close to the ground. Additionally, the national vector control team has extended its environmental programme.
01-FEBRUARY 2016 The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency, prompted by growing concern that it could cause birth defects. As many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged pregnant women against travel to about two dozen countries where the outbreak is growing, including Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Dominica. Click here to read more.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has also issued an enhanced precaution alert for those traveling to regions affected by Zika including Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana as well as neighboring Venezuela and Brazil. Click here to read more.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Although it was discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia, it did not begin spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere until May of 2015 when an outbreak occurred in Brazil.
At this time, we have no reports of guests, guides, lodge hosts, or staff being infected by Zika.
As a concerned traveller, here are a few important things to bear in mind as you consider your upcoming travel plans:
- Cases of Zika have been identified on four continents. It has been detected in more than 20 countries in the Americas including the United States.
- Symptoms can include mild fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain, and general feeling of illness that begins 2-7 days after infection. Four out of five people who are infected have no symptoms at all.
- The spread of the virus has been linked to thousands of birth defects (microcephaly).
- There is no vaccine or cure for Zika.
- There have been no deaths attributed to the Zika virus. Hospitalization as a result of Zika is uncommon.
When traveling to countries where Zika virus or mosquitoes-related illness are found are found, travellers are advised to take the following steps:
- Stay informed about the Zika virus as it develops
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, socks and shoes.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net.
- Use insect repellents and reapply as directed. If also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
At Wilderness Explorers, we take the health of our clients AND the global public health risks associated with Zika very seriously. However, at this time we believe that rigorous application of standard anti-mosquito measures (long sleeves, repellant, mosquito nets for sleeping, etc) lower infection risks for most travellers to tolerable levels.
Bear in mind that tropical, mosquito-borne diseases are nothing new in this part of the world and that Zika is just one of many health considerations any traveller should consider when venturing into the tropics. We encourage you to carefully review our Notes For Travellers website which reviews health precautions that must be considered in this part of the world.
That said, we join with the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization in recommending that pregnant women postpone travel to Latin America – including Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.
Please contact us immediately if you wish to discuss itinerary changes or postponements – we will be happy to work with you to accommodate your needs.
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