CHICAGO -- For one particular group of travelers there is a new 4-letter word when it comes to getting away: Zika. For about a year, the mysterious virus threatening pregnant women and their unborn babies has forced global warnings and endless updates. Still, U.S. travelers are simply changing their travel plans instead of scrapping them all together.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, but you can prevent it. The best way, doctors say, is pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant should avoid any travel to affected regions. And these warnings are also for men who plan to start a family. According to the CDC, men should wait six months before having unprotected sex with their partner if they have traveled to affected Zika zones. Zika can be sexually transmitted.
But women expecting a family or planning to have one eventually are not choosing to stay home. They might just be staying a little closer to home, and are listening carefully to warnings from the CDC. For almost a year now, Zika virus warnings urged women planning a family to avoid Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. But the CDC map makes the problem appear far more widespread when it comes to affected areas, leaving potential travelers turning to their doctors for more guidance.
Dr. Julie Levitt says California, Hawaii and Europe are good options for pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant travelers during this time of continued medical uncertainty. And if a woman plans to start a family after having traveled to affected Zika zones, Dr. Levitt suggests waiting three months before trying to conceive. Additionally, bug spray your loose clothes, and be sure to wear long sleeves and pants.
Believe it or not, travel experts say 2016 has been a great year for travel, Zika or no Zika. According to the U.S. travel association's latest travel trends index it's going to get even better. Travel overall is expected to grow at a rate of 1.4 percent through Feb. 2017.