During 2015 the Zika virus, originally from Uganda, has spread over large parts of South America. At present 19 countries are affected: Bolivia, Brazil, Barbados, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guayana, French Guyana, Haití, Honduras, Martinique, Mexiko, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, San Martin, Surinam and Venezuela. The WHO has declared global publich health emergency recently.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito. The most common symptoms of this usually mild illness are fever, rash, pains in the joints and muscles or headache.
However, the Zika virus can be dangerous for pregnant women. In Brazil there are various reports of women giving birth to babies with irregularly small heads after having been infected by the Zika virus during their pregnancy. Pregnant women should therefore not travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
There are currently three reported cases in Chile – all three patients got infected while travelling abroad (Brazil, Colombia an. Venezuela). The WHO states that this virus could possibly spread over the whole American continent – except for Chile and Canada, where the Aedes mosquito does NOT exist. The dry Atacama Desert separates Northern Chile from the tropical regions of bordering countries, serving an important protective function. The regions further south are protected by the mighty Andean mountain range and the cooler climate creates unfavourable conditions for the Aedes mosquito. On Easter Island the Aedes mosquito exists, however no cases of the Zika virus have been reported. Passengers arriving at the Mataveri Airport receive insect repellent, and inhabitants of Easter Island who have recently travelled to affected areas are supervised by the local health authority. Our partners at Easter Island keep us constantly updated.