NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 10:57 AM
Two U.S. airlines began issuing refunds to tropics-bound travelers worried about the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
Two airlines began issuing refunds to Tropics-bound travelers worried about the growing Zika virus outbreak as more cases of the mosquito-borne illness were reported in the U.S.
President Obama on Tuesday called for more research on the virus that has hit more than 20 countries and has been linked to a wave of birth defects as cases were reported in California and Arkansas.
United Airlines announced Tuesday that it would allow customers booked to fly to areas affected by the virus to reschedule or cancel their trips. American Airlines will give refunds to pregnant women planning to travel to parts of Central America.
Health officials suspect Zika is linked to birth defects in Brazil, where babies have been born with small heads.
U.S. officials have recommended pregnant women consider postponing trips to areas affected by Zika virus disease outbreaks — more than 20 countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean — while El advised its women to avoid getting pregnant until 2018.
Ludmilla Hadassa Dias de Vasconcelos, who has microcephaly, is held by her grandmother in Oswaldo Cruz Hospital Recife, Brazil.
The United Airlines offer includes any country covered by a CDC travel notice, an airline spokesman said. American Airlines began refunds Monday for pregnant passengers holding tickets to El Salvador, Honduras, Panama or Guatemala, according to a spokesman.
Obama met with public health and national security officials Tuesday about the mosquito-borne virus. The president, who was briefed on disease and its possible impacts on the U.S., urged officials to speed up research to diagnose, prevent and treat Zika virus.
The U.S. government has already researched a possible vaccine for Zika virus, but development is expected to take years.
A handful of cases have been reported across the U.S. in recent weeks, but all of the patients contracted the virus while visiting Central American, South American and Caribbean countries.
A municipal worker sprays insecticide at the neighborhood of Imbiribeira in Recife, Brazil, as part of the city’s effort to prevent the spread of Zika’s vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
An adolescent girl from Los Angeles was infected when she traveled to Central America in November, health officials said Tuesday, but she has since recovered. Arkansas also confirmed a resident tested positive on Monday after a vacation south.
Cases of Zika have also been diagnosed in Europe and Africa
The World Health Organization has reported cases of Zika transmission in 22 countries: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
Symptoms of Zika — which include fever, skin rashes, joint pain, malaise, and headache — usually show up two to seven days after a bite from an infected mosquito, health officials said. There is no specific treatment for the relatively mild disease. Doctors have encouraged Zika patients to get plenty of rest, drink fluids and treat pain and fever with over-the-counter medications.
The virus poses the biggest risk to pregnant women. In Brazil, where more than 1 million people have bene infected, at least 4,000 babies have been born with microcephaly, a rare disorder that causes an unusually small head and can lead to neurological defects.
With News Wire Services