Zika, Rio 2016 & Travel Insurance: What You Need to Know
With the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics now underway, a major talking point surrounding the event is the risk of acquiring the Zika virus, while in Brazil. Notable athletes, including Jason Day (pictured below), Rory McIlroy, Milos Raonic and Tejay van Garderen, all opted to miss the Summer Games due to Zika-related concerns.
This article will fill you in on what you need to know about the Zika virus, its prevalence in Brazil and different travel insurance packages available to Canadians while abroad.
What is Zika?
Zika is a virus spread through infected mosquitoes. The most damaging part of Zika is the affects it can have on a pregnant woman’s fetus. An infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly, impaired growth and brain complications.
Symptoms for Zika are mild. An infected person might notice a fever, rash, red eyes, joint or muscle pain, or the odd headache. Symptoms, typically, don’t last longer than a week. Again, because the symptoms are mild, many people infected with Zika don’t often even realize they have been infected by the virus.
If you’ve been to a country where Zika is present, it’s a good idea to get a blood or urine test if you feel a little off. Once you have been infected, you have a good chance of being protected from future infections.
Currently, there is no known vaccine for Zika.
How common is Zika in Brazil?
In short, not very.
August is a winter month in Brazil. The months with the most rainfall, December to March, are the months when mosquitoes are most prominent. The Zika-carrying mosquitoes are found, largely, in the north-eastern part of the country – hundreds of miles from Rio de Janeiro.
In 2014, the World Cup was held in Rio in July. At the time, people were concerned with dengue, another disease carried by mosquitoes. Those same dengue-carrying mosquitoes are the culprits for transmitting Zika. Only three tourists – all in the northern city of Belo Horizonte – acquired dengue. Not an especially high number, considering over a million visitors attended the World Cup.
‘’Scientists have also done modeling predictions of the likely number of Zika virus cases based on that experience with dengue,” John McConnell, editor of Lancet Infectious Diseases, said. ‘’The worst-case scenario is that there will be 3.2 Zika infections per 100,000 tourists. The much more likely scenario: Zika will affect 1.8 people per million tourists.”
What other countries have been flagged for Zika virus?
Brazil has been generating headlines as the de facto world leader in Zika, but the virus is not limited to the ‘’Land of the Holy Cross’’.
Zika can be found throughout most of the Americas, in fact. Argentina (Tucuman province pictured below), Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela, amongst others, have reported active Zika transmissions. Heading north, Zika has been transmitted in Mexico, as well as Florida, USA.
What travel insurance coverage options are available in Canada?
Through their partnered companies, Surex offers medical, non-medical and bundled travel packages to meet the needs of Canadians looking to travel at home and/or abroad.
If you’re looking to get an emergency medical plan for abroad travel, you can get a worldwide or a worldwide excluding USA plan. Both plans will provide coverage for emergency hospital stays or emergency medical treatment. However, the excluding USA plan will only cover you for up to five days while traveling through the USA.
Non-medical plans include accidental death & dismemberment, trip cancellation & trip interruption, trip interruption, baggage, and rental car protection coverage.
Bundled packages are the most thorough variety of travel plans. An all-inclusive holiday package will include: emergency medical, trip cancellation, accidental death & dismemberment and baggage insurance. A non-medical package includes: trip cancellation & trip interruption, accidental death & dismemberment and baggage insurance.
Get an online travel insurance quote here.
If you’re leaving Canada to head to Brazil, or any other country where the Zika virus is present, be sure to look into the different travel insurance plans available to you.