Update: AUGUST 19, 2016 - Area Near Cruise Terminal Infected
Cruise Bruise Investigations has uncovered a new sexually transmitted health risk to travelers including cruise ship passengers and crew members. We have been watching the progression of the Zika Virus and have now elevated our concerns to a full cruise ship passenger travel warning as the virus jumped from mosquito transmission only, to the first case of human to human transmission.
Zika Virus is a flavivirus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The virus causes fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea and rash. Those symptoms are the least of the problem associated with Zika Virus, as we discovered. Zika Virus has become in 2015, a global public health emergency, according to The World Health Organization (WHO).
In early 2015, an outbreak of Zika virus, was identified in northeast Brazil, an area where dengue virus was also circulating. By September, reports of an increase in the number of infants born with microcephaly in Zika virus-affected areas began to emerge, and Zika virus RNA was identified in the amniotic fluid of two women whose fetuses had been found to have microcephaly by prenatal ultrasound.
Microcephaly usually results from abnormal brain development. The long-term consequences of microcephaly depend on underlying brain anomalies and can range from mild developmental delays to severe motor and intellectual deficits, like cerebral palsy.
South America has had the most amount of Zika Virus infections and seeing a trend, nations began collecting data on the effect Zika virus may be having on unborn children. Brazil is investigating 3,670 suspected cases of microcephaly in babies linked to the Zika virus. While Colombia is investigating 2,100 pregnant women who could potentially be infected.
The CDC recently tested samples from two pregnancies that ended in miscarriage and from two infants with microcephaly who died shortly after birth. All four cases tested positive for Zika virus infection, indicating that the infants had become infected during pregnancy.
Prompted by their case results, the CDC began to advise pregnant women who travel in Zika virus-affected areas there is neither a vaccine nor prophylactic medications available to prevent Zika virus infection. The CDC recommends that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. They also advise women to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents which includes insect repellent wipes when outdoors. This has caused sales of insect repellents and insect repellent wipes by travelers and cruise ship passengers to rapidly increase.
In the U.S, while there are very few cases, the most important case in the world is here. Thirty-one Americans in 11 states and Washington, D.C., have been diagnosed with a Zika infection contracted while traveling abroad, said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Texas leads the pack at seven cases, with New York having three.
This week, a new case in Dallas Texas emerged. The infected person, now called “patient zero” for the sexually transmitted virus, had not traveled outside the U.S., but her sexual partner had recently traveled to Venezuela.
This latest case is the first documented case of human to human transmission and is also the first case originating within the United States. Protecting against mosquito bites is more important than ever as the risk to unborn babies takes front stage along with threat of human to human sexual transmission. This a reminder to sexually active adults of all genders to protect themselves and others by not having unprotected sex and if having spontaneous sexual relations is a possibility while on a cruise, whether a female partner is pregnant or not, be sure to take a supply of condoms.
Males having unprotected sex may impact the population worldwide by infecting women and possibly a fetus, with the resulting children creating an epidemic on the scale of AIDS in the 1980s, in a matter of a few years. Only this time, the highest risk group are unborn children which will have a global effect on humanity for generations to come.It’s prudent to note, there is a strong risk associated with cruise ship passengers and crew who have sexual relations with cruise ship crew members. Crew members travel to many nations, and more nations where Zika Virus infection is an issue are being added monthly.
The latest information moves the Zika virus into the dangerous sexual transmission category along with AIDS. As with AIDS, the elevated concerns have become more apparent, with the Red Cross taking precautions. Because of contaminated blood supply concerns, the American Red Cross is screening prospective blood donors who have recently visited countries infected by Zika Virus and requires they wait at least 28 days before donating their blood. That single screening element was an early warning that human to human transmission was imminent.
However, now that the virus is being sexually transmitted, the Red Cross will have to take additional steps to protect the blood supply, broadening the screening process to include those who have had unprotected sex with new or unfamiliar partners.
For many of the cruises calling at Cozumel, the ship also calls at Progreso at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Quintanaroo, Costa Maya Mexico located near Belize and Belize City. Those Caribbean cruises calling in that region primarily embark from Charleston, South Carolina, Florida ports, New Orleans and Galveston, Texas.
Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) Zika Travel Information Alerts are as follows:
Zika Virus in South America.
Zika Virus in Cape Verde includes cruises to Mindelo (Sao Vicente)
Zika Virus in the Caribbean - Currently includes: Barbados; Dominican Republic; Guadeloupe; Haiti; Martinique; Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Zika Virus in Central America - Currently includes: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama
Zika Virus in Samoa
Zika Virus in Mexico
The Zika Virus in Mexico is most concerning. Cozumel, Mexico receives more cruise ship passengers than any other cruise ship port in Mexico and the Caribbean. In Mexico, there have been 18 confirmed cases which triggered the CDC travel alert for the Yucatan peninsula and bordering state of Chipas. Chipas shares a border with Belize and Guatemala, where there are also travel alerts for Zika.
UPDATE: February 23, 2016
Today, the CDC added the following destinations to the Zika virus travel notices: Trinidad and Tobago and the Marshall Islands. Caribbean destination Trinidad and Tobago is a popular cruise ship destination.
The following cruise companies call at Trinidad and Tobago
Aida Cruises, Azamara Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Compagnie Des Iles Du Ponant, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Lines, Fred Olsen Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Island Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Ocean Village Cruises, Orient Lines, P & O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Page & Moy Cruises, Phoenix Reisen Cruises, Residensea, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Thomson Cruises and Voyage of Discovery Cruises.
AUGUST 19, 2016
Area Near Cruise Terminal Infected
Florida Gov. Rick Scott confirmed Friday that the Zika virus is being spread locally by mosquitoes in Miami Beach, Florida. The suspect zone covers the tourist area between 8th and 28th streets, and between the beach and the intracoastal waterway. The area of beach is just across the harbor opening near the Dodge Island Cruise Terminal. See map area highlighted in red. Click map for larger view.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a second travel advisory, saying pregnant women should also avoid the designated area of Miami Beach (see map above). The agency said that pregnant women who live in the area or have to travel there should take extra precautions to guard against mosquito bites, including wearing repellent. It gave the same direction for these women's sexual partners.