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Travel to Antigua in Feb and scared of zika virus

(36 Posts)
Campo123 Wed 20-Jan-16 22:59:55

Hello,
I am 13 wks pregnant with my fourth. Last week, with my husband's blessing/encouragement, I did something very spontaneous the other day and booked a trip to Antigua with my 8 year old daughter for Feb half term. Paid everything up front. Literally right after I booked my sister sent an article re cdc advising pregnant women to avoid travel to certain Caribbean/South American countries due to the zika virus, which causes foetal abnormalities and for which there is no cure or treatment. Antigua is not currently on the list of the countries to avoid, but it does appear that mosquitoes are a problem there, and I happen to be a magnet for them.
Saw my OB today who was ambivalent. On one hand, he said it was more of a south/Latin American virus; on the other, he said that he would be happy to write a letter.
I feel deep down that the odds of my contacting this virus in a zone not previously affected are probably slim to none. I also know that I will, even if I take the most vigilant precautions (repellent, long sleeves, etc), be bitten as I always am, and I fear that the stress of worrying about the baby's wellbeing may well outweigh the enjoyment of a Caribbean holiday.
My other fear is that, if I cancel, I will not be reimbursed! Was going to get travel insurance tomorrow but is it too late at this point?
So sorry for the long post-- am new to this!-- and many thanks in advance for any advice/experiences you can share.

ILiveForNachos Wed 20-Jan-16 23:19:22

Never heard of this before but I was in St Lucia in Nov at 16 weeks pregnant and got bitten loads and all ok with baby (had 2 scans since then). Stock up on a good, deet free mozzie spray (although no conclusive evidence about feet) and enjoy!

kirinm Wed 20-Jan-16 23:49:54

I went to Antigua in the 'rainy' season and in two weeks was bitten once. I'm not pregnant so don't know the rules regarding use of repellant but if you ensure you use some protection you'll be fine. Where are you staying? Some hotels take better precautions than others. We often asked our hotel to spray our room whilst we went out for dinner.

1frenchfoodie Thu 21-Jan-16 06:02:00

Why are you scared of a virus the cdc are not flagging as a problem in Antigua? Seems a bit OTT. If you were to cancel a holiday because of fear if a virus that is not flagged as a problem where you are going then clearky you'd not get reimbursed. Go, have fun.

Campo123 Thu 21-Jan-16 06:41:37

Thank you for your input. We are staying at a resort called curtain bluff. Never been to Antigua before, but have been to

Campo123 Thu 21-Jan-16 06:50:50

Sorry-- posted too soon. Have been to other islands-- Jamaica, st barts-- several times where I was devoured by mosquitoes, even with repellent. The reason I'm worried even though it's not flagged by cdc is that Puerto Rico, guadaloupe and Martinique-- all of which are relatively close-- are flagged, and the general consensus is that it's spreading rapidly throughout the region. There has suddenly been lots of press on it, probably BC Brazil is affected and they are worried about the olympics. I plan to come armed with all of my repellents (OB recommended a very effective deet free one that I've written down but can't remember name off hand), bracelets, etc. It's just that usually, in spite of my vigilance with sprays, etc, I end up with bites all the same. And pregnant women whose babies are affected may not even know until much later in pregnancy during a scan. Causes v serious defects.

scaevola Thu 21-Jan-16 07:19:45

If you are not comfortable about going, then don't go.

The outbreak has not yet been confirmed as having reached Antigua, though chikungunya (also carried by mosquitos, and which can cause miscarriage) has been present for a couple of years, and you were presumably OK with that disease risk when you booked.

I doubt you would be able to claim on travel insurance for a disease that is not present.

sjch Thu 21-Jan-16 08:32:12

I've just come back from Mexico, which we found out was on the list whilst there - I'm 20 weeks gone. I am usually bitten loads when in more rural areas but didn't receive one bite thankfully - I did use the usual high strength jungle formula, kept doors closed with aircon on etc. It is mainly inland that has the issues and near rivers - we were staying near the sea. Brazil has the main issue, we couldn't find statistics on other countries. No announcements made by flight operators or hotel, hence we found out by chance.
If really worried and it's going to ruin the holiday, don't go. Or take extra precautions - sprays, avoid open areas near damp areas, avoid day trips, clothes that cover you at dusk/night etc. Bear in mind Antiga isn't the list.....

Campo123 Thu 21-Jan-16 09:57:39

Thank you for sharing that, sjch. Very good to know. Unfortunately, zika seems to be spreading v quickly. I was aware of chikungunya before booking but everything I read indicated that there were very few recent cases and that it was likely on the decline. You're right that Antigua isn't specifically on the list but "The Caribbean" is. I will probably go at this rate and just be very vigilant about repellent. Could anyone recommend a good travelers insurance, please?

dontcryitsonlyajoke Thu 21-Jan-16 10:05:24

I went to Antigua 2 years ago in Jan when 17 weeks pregnant. Obvs no concerns about Zika virus then but I can report that I had only 2 bites and I am normally covered in large bites. Mossies didn't seem as problematic there as other Caribbean islands for me. I don't like using repellent when pregnant so covered up (maxi dresses or trousers with a very little long sleeved shrug thing and would go inside in the evening rather than sit outside - so eat in our villa or inside restaurants.

bluewisteria Thu 21-Jan-16 18:34:25

There is a big article in this in today's Independent, also on their website. The American foreign office is advising against travel to most of South America for pregnant woman, although what their in depth advice is I don't know.
I would take out the best travel insurance and then call the foreign office or British embassy in Antigua to ask their advice. But get the insurance first.
Hopefully you can go and have a fabulous holiday!!

Fridayschild5 Thu 21-Jan-16 22:52:29

I have a friend in pretty much same predicament booked to go to St Lucia for family wedding. Same gestation as you; think she is considering not going. The rates of microencepaly have shot up in Brazil possibly due to this virus. Mosquitoes that carry it are apparently around in the daytime too so no protection from nightime nets.The WHO are updating the list of affected countries on a weekly basis.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35370848

bluewisteria Fri 22-Jan-16 02:27:18

Another article from an Newspaper in Antigua
antiguaobserver.com/cdc-alert-for-zika-virus-may-curb-caribbean-babymoon-vacations/

scaevola Sat 23-Jan-16 10:50:08

Today's BBC article about this

WinnieTheW0rm Sat 23-Jan-16 10:53:47

"Could anyone recommend a good travelers insurance, please?"

No insurance will cover you for an event that has already happened. So if you are intending to rely on advice about the disease that existed at the time of booking, you will not be able to insure against it. Firms probably won't cover you now.

It's the same situation as being unable to buy holiday insurance when they are beginning to talk about airline strikes.

Bkameny Sat 23-Jan-16 13:31:02

I am pregnant and just cancelled my trip to Antigua in February. I am sure the risk of Zika is low but knew I would worry the whole time about mosquitos and not enjoy the trip. My obstetrician advised that I not go and is writing me a letter. We were supposed to stay at Carlisle Bay and they were very unsympathetic and wouldn't give us a full refund.

bluewisteria Sat 23-Jan-16 17:51:53

I think if the foreign office haven't declared it a no go zone then insurance should cover it? Just get it asap

WinnieTheW0rm Sat 23-Jan-16 18:17:21

"Was going to get travel insurance tomorrow but is it too late at this point?"

Yes. Because your OB has already written the letter, so that's probably in your notes (and you can't really ask them to write again to support what the industry would consider a fraudulent application).

Sorry, I know that's exactly what you don't want to hear. But you cannot insure against inability to travel once you already know that inability exists. Unless you do not disclose it, which counts as fraud.

Sanch1 Sat 23-Jan-16 19:55:58

I wouldn't go. Can you swap your booking to somewhere else with the same travel company?

JRoseG Mon 25-Jan-16 12:50:43

I am 15 weeks pregnant. I have been in Antigua since early December as my Husband is working there. My 4 yr old son and I were due to stay for another 2 weeks and yesterday after reading everything we could find on the Zika virus threat we packed our bags and left. The Zika virus is present on islands north and south of Antigua. We think due to the nature and timing of the reporting and testing process for the virus it is likely as some medical professionals there are warning in online articles that Zika if not already in Antigua will be very soon. Being bitten regularly is unavoidable. We had friends who showed symptoms of the Zika virus while bitten in antigua in December but didn't get tested as they weren't aware of it as the news hadn't yet started showing info on it. Due to late rains the are more mosquitos than we've ever experienced before in the ten years we have been going there. I don't in anyway intend to scare anyone. I simply wanted to share my experience of being there and the info we've found. There doesn't seem to be any consensus as to whether Zika is only harmful in the first trimester or at any stage throughout the pregnancy. Why take the risk.

Campo123 Mon 25-Jan-16 13:42:10

Hello,
Thank you for all the feedback. Just a quick update: I decided to cancel and have been fully reimbursed for everything. Have switched my destination to Dubai. My Travellers insurance (which I had all along it turns out) will cover all costs up to 10k per person(the zika information and the CDC warning upgrade to level 2 did not occur until after the booking after all), but it turns it I don't even need to claim on it. Nobody could have predicted that this virus would so quickly become such a threat-- not only in South/central America but throughout Caribbean-- and, in my opinion as well as OB's and I suppose the hotel's and travel agent's-- going there would be a ridiculous risk to take as its really impossible to determine how great or how small the risk is now and will be in a few weeks' time. It's been called a pandemic much more grave than chikungunya.

Cb2506 Thu 28-Jan-16 23:10:52

Hi Campo123, we're in a very similar situation. I'm 23 weeks pregnant and my husband and I want to cancel our trip to Antigua next week having seen that basically every island around it is affected with the Zika virus. We're speaking with the travel company tomorrow but so far the insurance company have been very unhelpful and are refusing to pay out unless it comes up on the Foreign Office website. It just feels like a matter of time and too big a risk to take. What did you say to convince your insurance company?! Any advice would be much appreciated.

sarahscience Fri 29-Jan-16 14:36:56

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

SkiptonLass2 Sat 30-Jan-16 09:11:21

I'm glad you're not going. While the risk may be small the consequences if bitten are huge. That swings the risk:benefit ratio for me.

There are indications that the virus has recently undergone a couple of mutations that may increase virulence. That plus spread into an immunologically naive population means it's going to rip through absolutely everywhere you find Aedes mosquitos. You can safely assume that any region with Aedes is a risk.

Given the public health implications of this, you can bet they are working on a vaccine as a priority. Dh has just been involved in the recent successful dengue vaccine trials

MrsRoger1402 Wed 03-Feb-16 23:00:08

Hello,

Have a 2 week holiday booked from the 27th of Feb in Antigua and although we have been told we would get a full refund with me being pregnant, we are still more than likely going to go.

After doing extensive research and going through scientific journals, the information the media is giving has been completely hyped up. Of 4000 suspected cases of Microcephaly in Brazil only 6 babies were found to have the virus. The figures point to the irregulated mandatory vaccine Brazilian women were given that seems to be the main contender for the deformities. Also no other countries outside Brazil that have confirmed Zika viruses have any cases of Microcephaly influx. Antigua is also not on the CDC website as an affected country and to be honest a lot of the information given by the media is false. Almost half of the 4000 suspected cases in Brazil have also been discovered to just be babies with naturally smaller heads. Don't get sucked into the media hype. We will obviously be taking extra precautions like lemon eucalyptus oil, mozzie nets and garlic tablets but do not intend to cancel.

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