Zika travel notices: Vacation spots to avoid if you are pregnant - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Zika travel notices: Vacation spots to avoid if you are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant

(Source: KCBD) (Source: KCBD)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

If you are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, you may want to plan your next vacation around elevation levels.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus typically do not live at elevations above 6,500 feet.

Experts say travelers who plan on only visiting areas above this elevation are at a very low risk of getting Zika from a mosquito. 

However, travelers are still at risk of sexual transmission of Zika from a male partner who has been in areas where Zika is present.

The CDC advises pregnant women traveling to places where Zika has been reported, use condoms or not have sex with men who live or have traveled to those areas.

Deborah O'Connor owns Bell Travel Services in Lubbock.

"One particular client wants to do something before she has her baby," O'Connor said.

O'Connor advised she speak with her doctor before booking the trip. 

"Instead of going to the Caribbean or Mexico, they are going to go to Las Vegas," O'Connor said.

She said she has another client who decided not to alter her plans.

"She did have the insurance, so she could have backed out of the trip, but she decided to go and just be extra cautious," O'Connor said. 

O'Connor said she recommends all of her clients purchase the insurance because it will let you cancel for any reason.

The CDC has issued travel notices for the following places:

The CDC reports travel notices have not been issued for these destinations but would be considered if the number of cases rises to the level of an outbreak. 

Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia

Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam

The Pacific Islands: Easter Island, Vanuatu

Some airlines are offering refunds or travel funds for pregnant women who have booked a flight to a Zika-impacted area. 

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

On Southwest Airline's website, it states that as always, customers can change their travel itineraries without a change fee and non-refundable fares can be applied toward future travel without penalty as long as the reservation is canceled 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time .

The website goes on to state, "The CDC has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing, emphasizing the need for travelers to practice usual health precautions-predominately precautions against insect bites. The CDC recommends that pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing, and that pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant consult their doctor before departing if travel is unavoidable. Additionally, customers with specific documented medical restrictions, including pregnant women, can contact us at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792)."

AMERICAN AIRLINES

If you are pregnant and traveling to a destination in Latin America or the Caribbean affected by the Zika virus, you and your travel companions can request a refund for tickets purchased on or before March 31, 2016. The company asks you provide a doctor's not confirming your pregnancy when you request a refund.

UNITED AIRLINES

United Airlines posted on statement on July 26 that said if customers have a ticket for travel to a country affected by the Zika virus (as listed on the CDC website) and you are concerned about your travel, please contact the United Customer Contact Center with questions or to change your reservation. customers who are advised to avoid the affection regions based on CDC guidance may change their destination or travel date without a change fee or may choose to receive a refund if their tickets were issued on or before February 29, 2016. The new travel date must be within the validity of the ticket. Additional charges may apply if there is a difference in fare for the new itinerary.

DELTA AIRLINES

Customers with current reservations who are concerned about traveling to destinations reported by the CDC to be affected by Zika should call 1-800-221-1212 or your local reservations office and speak with a Delta representative. Customers may qualify for a change to alternate destinations, travel dates or a refund. Customers may make fee-waived changes to future reservations/tickets if tickets were purchased on or before March 1, 2016. If you are a Delta Vacations customer, please call 1-800-800-1504.

SPIRIT AIRLINES

Customers planning to travel to a country that has been impacted by the Zika virus may contact the company here with questions about changes to their itinerary.

VIRGIN AMERICA

On January 26, Virgin America issued a statement that said Mexico is the only destination that it serves that is included on the CDC's list of affected countries. The company said guests who are pregnant and traveling to Cancun International Airport, Puerto Vallarta International Airport or Los Cabos International Airport can call their contact center at 877.359.8474 to receive a travel waiver. 

ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Royal Caribbean sent this statement to O'Connor:

Royal Caribbean is committed to the safety and health of our guests and crew. We have been closely monitoring the Zika virus situation and are aware that the CDC has issued a travel alert for certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. We will assist any pregnant women who do not feel comfortable sailing to countries affected with the Zika virus by providing alternate itinerary options. If a pregnant guest calls in with concerns about their sailing going to one of the affected countries, an alternate sail date should be suggested. Important: Alternate sail date should not be stopping in Any of the affected countries     If an alternate ship/sail date will not work, pregnant guests and guests traveling in the same stateroom booked on a sailing going to one of the affected countries may cancel and receive a credit towards a future cruise. Guest must provide documentation from their doctor advising of their pregnancy.

CARNIVAL 

We couldn't find any information on Carnival's website about refunds. The company did post this statement:

On January 15, 2016 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) upgraded their travel notice for Zika virus to “Alert Level 2” (practice enhanced precautions). The notice currently affects specific areas of the Caribbean and Central and South America. However, the situation is evolving so please regularly check the affected areas via the following link:http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and symptoms include fever, headache, red eyes, rash and joint pain. Pregnant women can pass Zika virus to their fetus and additionally, a man infected with Zika virus can pass it to his sexual partner. The illness is usually mild and lasts between 2-7 days.  Most people who contract Zika do not experience any symptoms. However, based on recent reports of a potential linkage between Zika and poor pregnancy outcomes, the alert provides specific guidance for women who are pregnant and recommends they consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.  If pregnant women opt to travel to Zika-affected areas, the CDC recommends they talk to their healthcare provider in advance and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during their trip. Specific guidance for women who are trying to become pregnant is also included in the travel alert. More information can be found here - http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html.  

Guests are reminded to take general precautions against biting insects by covering exposed skin and using CDC recommended insect repellent.  Comprehensive health information can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.

Traveler's tips are also available through the CDC Travelers' Health Facebook page.

There is also a Twitter account dedicated to Travelers' Health.

If you would like to receive e-mail updates from the CDC on the Zika Virus, click here.

Additional travel-related information as well as information about the virus is available on the CDC's website.

Experts say many people infected with Zika virus do not feel sick. If a mosquito bites an infected person while the virus is still in that person's blood, it can spread the virus by biting another person. 

According to the CDC, even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks so that they do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitoes. 

Copyright 2016 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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