Zika virus is a major questions for travelers in Roatan, as it is for anyone in the Caribbean and Central America. There are many questions surrounding Zika and its risk for those planning a trip to Roatan, and not all of them are easily answerable. Studies are only beginning to unravel the mysteries of the virus. However, there is still enough information on Zika virus in Roatan for you be educated and prepared for safe travel to this beautiful island.
What is The Zika Virus?
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that was first found in Ugandan primates way back in 1947. It is just beginning to make headlines now that it has begun to spread like wildfire through Central American and the Caribbean. It is similar to dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and West Nile virus, so much so that it is often difficult to tell which disease a patient has. Zika is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which are day-fliers that carry the virus from host to host. According to Dr. Beatriz Finkel-Jimenez, scientists still do not totally understand how the virus affects the body, but its effects can range from mild to severe.
As with most new diseases, the media hysteria has created an unnecessary amount of fear regarding the virus. It is often difficult to tell whether a patient has had Zika virus, because, according Dr. Finkel-Jimenez, and estimated 80% of cases are asymptomatic. The 20% of patients who experience symptoms report a high fever, a rash of small red spots on the entire body, and extreme fatigue. A small number of geriatric patients in Brazil have also suffered from Guillain-Barns Syndrome, a paralysis that can last from days to months. Most cases are not severe and leave the patient feeling back to normal in a week or so. However, the hysteria around Zika centers around the risk of microcephaly, a condition that is believed to affect fetuses whose mothers contracted Zika during pregnancy. However, Dr. Vivian Braciale of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine says that there is no conclusive link between Zika and microcephaly, as the deformation was never observed in Zika patients outside of South America. However, it is best to avoid pregnancy if you may have contracted Zika or risk contracting it during pregnancy.
Prevalence and Risk in Roatan
The “risk” as established by the World Health Organization of contracting Zika virus in Roatan, Honduras is high based on the environmental factors. The low elevation and wet climate create the perfect home for Aedes aegypti mosquitos to breed. However, it is difficult to get an exact count of patients who have suffered from Zika virus. Since research is in beginning stages and most cases are asymptomatic, it may be a long time before anyone can know the exact risk of Zika. This topic will remain hotly debated for some time. The number of confirmed cases on Roatan, Honduras remains a question mark at this time.
To hear thoughts from Roatan’s mayor on this issue, be sure to check this out: http://thenewroatan.com/roatan-joins-the-fight-against-zika-virus/
Although the risk of Zika is high in Roatan and the entire surrounding area, there are easy steps to prevent contracting Zika. First, take measures to avoid mosquito bites. Wear long clothing whenever possible and cover exposed skin with mosquito repellent. Since Zika can also be contracted through blood, wear gloves if you are handing someone else’s blood. Also, be careful to use protection during intercourse if there is any risk that you or your partner has been in region with Zika, since the virus can be sexually transmitted.
See below for a map showing the risk levels of Zika around various parts of North and South America.
To learn more about the Zika virus, visit http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/zika-virus-symptoms-prevention.
The Guide includes:
- Roatan secrets only the locals know
- Hand-drawn maps to help you navigate West Bay
- Detailed information about the best resorts, restaurants, and activities
- Money saving tips for Roatan
- And MORE!