Refunds Offered to Pregnant Travelers Booked to Zika-Infected Areas
Following the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel alert for travel to countries and territories in Central and South America and the Caribbean, known Zika virus infected areas, United Airlines and American Airlines have announced they will offer the opportunity to reschedule or refund tickets held by women currently pregnant and have travels plans to Central America.
CDC issued the interim travel guidelines on Jan. 15, which includes alerts for Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
An additional eight counties were later added in South America, the Caribbean, and Polynesia, including Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Guyana, Cape Verde, off the coast of western Africa, and Samoa.
Much like the current dengue virus currently on the Big Island, the Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites.
Zika has been linked to birth defects in babies, like microcephaly, where a baby’s head is smaller than normal and the brain is not developed as it should.
United Airlines began to offer the refunds and rescheduling on Tuesday and includes any country covered by the CDC’s travel notice.
American Airlines began refunds on Monday for pregnant passengers with tickets to El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, or Guatemala.
In Hawai’i, one case of Zika was reported when a mother gave birth to a child with microcephaly. The case was confirmed as Zika, but Hawai’i Department of Health officials said that neither the child nor the mother were infectious.
The mother was reportedly living in Brazil in May 2015 and her baby acquired the infection in the womb.