Zika virus affecting travel to Florida - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Zika virus affecting travel to Florida

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WETHERSFIELD, CT (WFSB) -

As Connecticut copes with the first domestically contracted case of Zika, health officials were on alert with the potential health risks to pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Officials were still urging many to avoid Zika-affected areas such as Florida and the Caribbean. Eyewitness News looks into how the virus was impacting travel to warm destinations as we near the winter months.

“It’s scary to a lot of them,” Wethersfield travel agent Melissa Albright said about travelers headed to warmer climates.

Albright said she works with many young couples planning honeymoons and golfers. She added she is spending as much time talking about the Zika virus as she is about resorts and sandy beaches.

“Back in February, I remember we had a group going to San Juan, one of the members was pregnant and changed their plans,” Albright said.

Those conversations continued into this fall and beyond.

“Mostly what we see is people avoiding booking these places in the future,” Albright said.

The Connecticut Health Department issued a travel advisory in late August after a surge in Zika cases. 

The virus is spread by a specific type of mosquito, but is also a sexually transmitted disease. It generally causes mild illness and was also linked to severe birth defects.

The virus prompted health leaders to discourage travel to Florida and much of the Caribbean. On Wednesday, DPH reported a Connecticut person who traveled to Florida tested positive for Zika.  

Since Feb. 15, DPH said 85 Connecticut patients have tested positive for Zika. Five of them were pregnant women. There have been more than 3,300 cases across the United States.

Albright said Bermuda is still a safe spot. Otherwise, she has suggested travel destinations in Europe. 

“They’re more than willing and happy to look at alternative destinations,” Albright said.

A travel agent with a local AAA office said travelers are not cancelling plans due to Zika concerns, but some were delaying travel to effected areas. There has been a spike in bookings for Hawaii, Alaska and national parks.

For more information on the Zika virus, click here.

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