There’s been quite a bit of talk about the Zika virus over the past few days, something you may not have even heard of a few months ago. If you’re not familiar with Zika, the CDC has a breakdown on their website complete with Q&A and likely affected areas. The short description is a disease that can be contracted by a mosquito bite that comes with mild symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain) for a few days to a week.
But, there’s a disturbing trend of birth defects arising in babies that can be linked to pregnant moms who traveled in a region where Zika is present.
If you’re interested in reading more, this Guardian article discusses affected regions while this NY Times article covers the alarming increase in suspected birth defect cases showing up in Brazil.
I think one of my readers mentioned Zika to me last year but I don’t recall doing any research on it then. I’ve spent a fair amount of time reading about it over the last few days. Frankly, I’m pretty glad to be past the age where my wife and I are having children. While Zika doesn’t appear to be fatal for newborns, there’s currently no cure and it can lead to a life of development challenges. No parent really wants their child to start out life without every chance to be happy and healthy.
As more and more countries report the presence of the Zika virus, family travel is impacted. Pregnant moms (or those who might get pregnant) should research incidents of Zika if they plan to travel to Latin America, where a number of countries are affected. If you already have travel to one of these countries, your airline may have a travel waiver already in place.
Ben from One Mile at a Time has a post that contains the travel waiver policies of a bunch of the major airlines serving the affected region.
Each person needs to make their own decision when it comes to matters of this type. While not the same thing as deciding whether to put an unborn baby at risk, I recently had to make a decision on whether to travel to an area of the world where violence had been recently present (that would have freaked my wife out). There was a risk, though probably not a significant one. In my opinion, the decisions have a parallel. The world is a big place and there are plenty of places to go. It’s worth considering there may be a better time to visit somewhere when there’s less risk.