Leading epidemiologist weighs in on zika in Puerto Rico to help educate travelers

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A report from Caribbean News Now.

An esteemed epidemiologist says, unless you are pregnant or planning to conceive, you can have a worry-free vacation in Puerto Rico. Echoing Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s (PRTC) ongoing efforts to educate visitors about zika, Dr D.A. Henderson, Distinguished Scholar at the UPMC Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Maryland, urges travelers to learn the facts about the zika virus to overcome fears and hype.

Henderson, who helped lead the program that eradicated smallpox, encourages travelers to take a common sense approach when evaluating trips to zika prone areas.

“Unless you are pregnant or planning to conceive, there’s no reason to avoid traveling to destinations where zika may be present. If you use commonsense precautions to avoid mosquito bites, like applying insect repellent and wearing protective clothing, any threat of zika infection can be easily managed. The over-reaction and hype about zika is not warranted or helpful,” he said.

“The healthcare industry and the laboratories have a lot to benefit from a several billion dollar infusion for research and control efforts and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, and in fact many exposed populations will truly benefit, however it helps us understand the situation and keeps the zika hype in perspective. I see no evidence to suggest that Puerto Rico is the epicenter of the zika outbreak nor do I see signs that it will become an epidemic in the US,” Henderson continued.

“We are working diligently to educate and protect our visitors to Puerto Rico so they can have a worry-free experience,” said PRTC executive director Ingrid I. Rivera Rocafort. “By sharing the opinion of medical experts like Dr Henderson, we are spreading facts not fear about zika, reassuring visitors they can continue to enjoy our beautiful island, the crown jewel of the Caribbean.”

The PRTC is working closely with Henderson, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) and the local Department of Public Health to ensure visitors are informed about zika in Puerto Rico. The PRTC and the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association (PRHTA) are taking every precaution possible to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds at hotels and resorts, and educate visitors about preventing mosquito bites.

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