Several airlines have started to refund passengers traveling to parts of Central and South American countries, which are reporting a higher number of Zika virus infections. American, United, and Delta airlines each made the allowed some customers to cancel or postpone their flights this week amid rising concerns about the mosquito-borne virus. Zika virus fever is an infectious disease caused by the Zika virus. Individuals are typically infected with Zika virus when infected mosquitoes bite them.
Currently, there is no vaccination for Zika virus. The infection causes symptoms such as mild fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis, red rash covered with small bumps, muscle pain, and headaches. Additionally, Zika virus fever can cause complications such as the incomplete development of the brain in a newborn child, developmental delays and brain damage, leading to a poor life expectancy.
If you are traveling to Latin American countries for non-essential purposes and want to cancel, reschedule or choose a different destination, you may contact your airlines for a refund, especially if you are pregnant. In many cases, the airlines may require a doctor’s note stating your inability to fly to the endemic regions, due to a potential health hazard to your unborn baby.
Not all airlines are currently giving refunds. Refunds are usually considered only if you are traveling to certain Latin American countries. The list of travel destinations is changing based upon the patterns of Zika virus infection geographically.
Contact your healthcare provider, travel agent, and airlines personnel to determine your potential risk.
Written by Krishna Tangella, MD