In the wake of Zika virus outbreak in several states of India, U.S based health protection agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] has sent out an alert to all pregnant women planning a trip to Rajasthan and neighbouring states.
According to a report published by the World Health Organization [WHO], over 150 cases of Zika have been registered in India, as of November 2018.
The CDC Zika virus advisory issued on 13 December 2018, reads:
“There is an unusual increase in the number of Zika cases in Rajasthan and surrounding states”.
Cautioning pregnant women, the agency further stated that Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects to the baby being born, hence advising them against visiting these states.
Furthermore, according to CDC, US women who have returned from Zika affected areas must wait at least three months before considering pregnancy. Same goes for men as the virus has the capability to stay longer in semen than any other body fluids, it stated.
How is tourism affected?
Located to the northwest of India, Rajasthan is one of the most important tourist destinations in India. Alongside the famous Thar desert, the state is laden with beautiful cities and is known for its vibrant colourful festivals. Rajasthan is most visited during October – March when famous events like the Jaipur Literature Festival, Pushkar City Fair, India’s most celebrated Holi festival and other such festivities take place.
According to the Rajasthan tourism department, last year, during the same time, the state saw a footfall of 35.34 lakh Indian and foreign tourists, a number greater than the previous year’s. However, the agency’s advisory might have an impact on the number of tourists visiting this year.
What are people saying on Trip Advisor?
Raising concern about the Zika virus outbreak, many have questioned the safety.
“My husband and I are traveling to India in December from US and also are concerned about the outbreak. Just read an article on CNN that 150 people have tested positive.
Does anyone have information regarding if all areas are at high risk or if there are just some areas to avoid?”
“We are planning to travel during December to Jaipur and Udaipur. Hear about the break out of Zika virus. Please advice and share your inputs based on the situation, whether to cancel flight tickets and hotel booking.”
What is Zika Virus?
The Zika virus is an infection transmitted by mosquitoes. The virus is especially dangerous to pregnant women as it can cause birth defects in newborns, termed as microcephaly. It is a condition that causes the newborn to be born with an extremely small head, due to the damage in the brain coupled with several other defects like deafness, blindness, and seizures.
Although the virus is mainly transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes [mosquitoes which also cause Dengue and Chikungunya and yellow fever], it can also be transmitted through sex.
For more information read the detailed list of Symptoms, testing and Treatment for the Zika Virus.
The Zika virus is not considered fatal to anyone apart from pregnant women. Most of those affected from the virus experience symptoms like a rash, fever, conjunctivitis, fatigue and joint pain around 3 to 12 days after being bitten.