- Aedes species mosquitoes are the most common infection carrier.
- They're aggressive biters from dawn to dusk.
- Sexual transmission and blood transfusion transmissions
The CDC's Prevention Strategies
long sleeves and pants.
Environmental Protection Agency-approved insect repellent.
clothing with permethrin insecticide.
in places with air conditioning or window/door screens.
On Call International's Travel Management Consideration
- Stay up to date on the situation via the CDC, Pan
American Health Organization and World Health Organization
- Alert all travelers to associated risks.
alternatives, such as videoconferencing.
Even as fears rise about the
mosquito-borne Zika virus in Latin America and other global regions, corporate
travelers are treating the global scare as business as usual.
"For the moment, we haven't seen either a decline in
new bookings, whether it's flight or hotel, neither have we seen an increase in
cancellations since the recent cases," said Vicky Fernandez, senior vice
president and general manager of Latin America at Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
Hogg Robinson Group marketing director John Harvey said
the agency has not noticed a change in corporate travel patterns but added,
"The level of alert, especially for businesswomen, is increasing." BCD Travel also has not seen a big impact on travel patterns, said BCD
Travel global crisis management vice president Martin Weisskirchen.
Zika virus can bring on symptoms similar to the flu in one
in five people and has been in Brazil since May 2015, according to the Pan
American Health Organization. Recently, however, researchers have suggested an
apparent link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome, birth defects like
microcephaly and poor outcomes for pregnant women. On Feb. 1, the World Health
Organization declared Zika a global public health emergency, and authorities
have cautioned pregnant women to avoid traveling to affected regions and have advised
women within the regions to consider delaying pregnancy until the outbreaks are
American Airlines, JetBlue
Airways, United Airlines, Lufthansa and British Airways are among a growing
number of air carriers that have recently instituted some form of refund or rebooking
policy for travelers flying to affected regions. The hotel industry has yet to
take similar broad actions, as companies like Marriott International released
statements instead about taking recommended precautions and monitoring the
outbreaks through health authorities.
Though it's early and information about the virus and its
implications is still emerging, corporates appear to view the pandemic as just another
risk of global travel. "For organizations that have a mature process
around travel risk management, this should just be another time to exercise
that muscle," said Jim Hutton, chief security officer at risk-management
firm On Call International. "There are lots of different risks and
exposures that happen, crime, terrorism. Health exposures really shouldn't be
treated any differently in terms of the duty-of-care mentality."
Weisskirchen said, "We advise travel managers to understand and
support their companies’ individual risk and duty-of-care policies. … There’s a
common thread that all companies share: keeping travelers informed and engaged.
Travel security alerts for specific destinations can play an important role for
situations like this one, and we also encourage companies to explore the use of
customized messaging capabilities.”
DHL travel services category manager Michelle Hunt said
her travelers have raised no concerns thus far. Instead, the biggest focus for
the program currently is disseminating information. "We're creating
awareness around it in conjunction with our health, risk and HR departments to
make sure people are informed of what's going on and how to protect themselves,"
Hunt said pop-up notifications on the company's online
booking tool alert travelers of the situation, no matter where the traveler is
planning to book. General communications will also go out via newsletters and direct
communications to those with booked travel. Though Hunt said it’s important to
communicate to all employees about Zika Virus "because anybody could get
it," DHL's communications echo health organizations' recommendations that
pregnant women or those wanting to become pregnant should check with their
doctors before they travel.
Is Zika Virus?
Though the WHO declared Zika a public health emergency,
neither it nor the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Pan
American Health Organization have issued bans on international travel or trade
in infected regions.
The virus is not new—it was first discovered in the Zika
forest in Uganda in 1947—but since it was confirmed in Brazil in May 2015, the
scope of infection has grown quickly throughout the Americas. PAHO said the
rapid transmission has been fueled by climatic conditions that allow the carrier,
Aedes species mosquitoes, to thrive. Because the virus is also new to the
region, the population has not built up natural defenses against infection.
Symptoms associated with Zika include mild fever, rash,
conjunctivitis and muscle or joint pain, though symptoms do not appear in all
infected people. On Call International chief medical officer Dr. Robert Wheeler
said the incubation period can be three to 12 days. After that, the virus can
be detected in the blood and the person is infectious for three to seven days.
This, he said, is also the period in which symptoms appear, if they appear at
all. Once an infected person develops antibodies against the virus, they are no
longer infectious and are extremely unlikely to contract the virus again.
Given the time span from inoculation to no longer
infectious, Dr. Wheeler said common advice for women is to avoid getting
pregnant within four weeks of travel to infected regions. Men, too, should be
aware that they could infect partners through sexual contact during the same
period. So far, no locally transmitted Zika cases have been found in the
continental United States, though cases in returning travelers have been
reported and the list of countries with active transmission changes regularly.
"What's important is that our corporate customers keep an
eye on where their travelers are going,” said CWT’s Fernandez. “Companies tell
us that safety and security are key in managing their travel program and I
think they just need to continue doing that, and we will support them
also suggested corporates exercise flexibility for those employees concerned
about traveling. "There are other ways to do the business," he said.
"You can perhaps do video collaboration. There could be local partners
that could do some things for you. I would encourage an organization to be
creative around ways to get the work done. There's really no one size fits all