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Minister Flanagan updates Travel Advice on Zika Virus Outbreak

Travel, Consular, Minister Charles Flanagan, Ireland, Press Releases, Latin America, 2016

Following the declaration by the World Health Organisation of a public health emergency of international concern, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Charlie Flanagan TD, has today (Tuesday) reminded Irish citizens to be aware of the risks of the Zika Virus and to take appropriate precautions if planning travel to Central America, South America or the Caribbean.

Minister Flanagan said:

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade currently has travel advisories in place for 32 countries and territories in response to the ongoing Zika Virus outbreak and my officials continue to monitor the situation closely.

"We would particularly urge pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant to consult with their healthcare professionals and to consider postponing their travel to affected areas. This is particularly relevant for travel to areas classified as having “increasing or widespread transmission” of the Zika virus. Those with concerns can review the advice of the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre of the HSE at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/ for the latest updates and guidance from Irish health professionals.”

The Minister continued:

“The WHO will lead the international effort to establish whether there is a conclusive link between the Zika virus and reported cases of birth defects, and to seek to prevent further spread of the virus and more pregnant women becoming infected.

"Any citizens intending to travel to the Caribbean or Central and South America should ensure they take the proper precautions against mosquito bites and secure the necessary vaccinations for this type of environment. My Department will remain in close contact with the HSE and with our Missions in the Americas in relation to this outbreak.”

ENDS
Press Office
2 February 2016

Notes for Editors:
• Travel advice is available at www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/ and is made public to help Irish citizens to make informed decisions about overseas travel.

• The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has so far issued advisories for: Barbados; Bolivia; Brazil; Cabo Verde; Colombia; Costa Rica; Curacao; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; Fiji; French Guiana; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Maldives; Martinique; Mexico; New Caledonia; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Puerto Rico; Saint Martin; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Suriname; Thailand; the US Virgin Islands; and Venezuela.

• Not all countries are associated with the same level of risk and are categorised as “an increasing or widespread transmission” of the disease, or “sporadic transmission following recent introduction.”

• The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued its first travel advisory regarding the Zika Virus on 27 November 2015, alerting citizens to the outbreak in Brazil.

• Although a causal association between Zika virus infection during pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes has not been confirmed, the concern over a possible causal link has prompted public health authorities to issue travel advice for the affected areas. While the evidence regarding a causal link between Zika virus infections during pregnancy and congenital malformations is growing, the available information is not yet sufficient to confirm it.

• Travellers to affected areas should take individual protective measures to prevent mosquito bites, and pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant, and who plan to travel to the areas experiencing transmission of Zika virus, should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare providers and consider postponing their travel to affected areas, especially to areas with increasing or widespread transmission.

• Personal protection measures to avoid mosquito bites should include:

• Using mosquito repellents in accordance with the instructions indicated on the product label. DEET*-based repellent use is not recommended in children under three months of age.

• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, especially during the hours of highest mosquito activity.

• Using mosquito nets is essential if accommodation is not adequately screened or air-conditioned.

• Travellers showing symptoms compatible with dengue, chikungunya or Zika virus disease within three weeks after returning from an affected area should contact their healthcare provider and mention their travel. Pregnant women who have travelled to areas with Zika virus transmission should mention their travel during antenatal visits in order to be assessed and monitored appropriately.