Leading epidemiologist says Zika should not prevent most travel to Puerto Rico
A leading epidemiologist said travelers should not let concerns about the Zika virus keep them from vacationing in Puerto Rico.
According to Dr. D.A. Henderson, who directed the international effort to eradicate smallpox, many concerns about the Zika Virus are unnecessary. “Unless you are pregnant or planning to conceive, there’s no reason to avoid traveling to destinations where Zika may be present,” said Henderson.
Currently there is no vaccine for the infection, however Henderson says that transmission of the disease is easily avoidable, and simple steps can be taken to prevent infection.
“If you use common sense precautions to avoid mosquito bites, like applying insect repellent and wearing protective clothing, any threat of Zika infection can be easily managed.”
Ultimately, Henderson said the hype surrounding the Zika Virus is unnecessary, and that most people should not be afraid to travel to Puerto Rico.
“The healthcare industry and the laboratories have a lot to benefit from a several billion dollar infusion for research and control efforts and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, and in fact many exposed populations will truly benefit, however is helps us understand the situation and keeps the Zika hype in perspective,” said Henderson.
According to the CDC, people who contract the Zika virus often do not exhibit symptoms. In fact, the CDC says symptoms are often mild, lasting anywhere from several days to a month.
In some extreme cases, people who contract Zika develop Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. However, GBS can be triggered by other infections as well, and most people who eventually develop symptoms of GBS make a full recovery.
As such, Henderson says most of the worry surrounding the virus is unwarranted, especially in Puerto Rico. “I see no evidence to suggest that Puerto Rico is the epicenter of the Zika outbreak, nor do I see signs that it will become an epidemic in the US.”