Florida Officials: No Zika Found in Mosquito Samples So Far

Florida agriculture officials say no mosquitoes in the state have tested positive for the Zika virus so far this year.

According to a statement from the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, nearly 90,000 individual mosquitoes have been tested for the virus linked to severe birth defects. None of the mosquitoes from more than 6,500 samples have tested positive for the presence of Zika so far in 2017.

Agriculture officials recently hosted workshops around the state for local officials to discuss mosquito surveillance and control measures. Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said that as summer begins, it’s important that Florida communities have the resources they need for their Zika response efforts.

Two New Mosquito Species Land in Florida

One month after being declared Zika-free by the Center for Disease Control, the state of Florida has been recognized as the home of two new mosquito species.

Two tropical disease-carrying mosquitoes have been found in the Florida Everglades; this is the first time they have ever been on the United States mainland. The new arrivals are from the Caribbean and Latin America. This brings the total up to nine new mosquito species found in Florida over the past decade.

An entomologist from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is responsible for the latest discovery.

“These two species are known to transmit pathogens that affect human and animal health,” said Nathan Burkett-Cadena, assistant professor of entomology at UF.

Burkett-Cadena predicts that the mosquitoes will likely spread throughout Florida and to neighboring states because of their widespread larval habitat. The research to support these findings is being published in the Journal of Medical Entomology and the Journal Acta Tropica.

After the December 2016 “Zika-free” declaration, public health officials made it clear that even though virus is gone, it could make a reappearance at a later date. At this time, officials say it’s too early to be alarmed by the new discoveries, despite the possibility of new mosquito-borne viruses.

Designer Mosquitoes Coming Soon To Florida

Genetically modified mosquitos may soon be coming to Florida, and everyone on board wants us to stay totally chill about it.

On November 19, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District made its decision, by a 3 to 2 vote, to formally approve a field trial release of genetically-modified mosquitos, which were developed by the company Oxitec. The company’s modified mosquitoes have already been tested in Brazil and the Panama Islands, with largely encouraging results, but any similar trials in Florida would be the first in the United States.

The mosquitos, Aedes aegypti, could be used in the fight against dengue fever as well as the Zika virus. Florida has seen several scattered outbreaks of dengue in recent years, with its latest occurring in 2010.

Oxitec’s mosquitoes have been genetically modified to express a gene that prevents them from reaching maturity. So when they’re released and start breeding with wild populations of mosquitoes, the offspring die before adulthood. Soon enough, it’s hoped, the entire local mosquito population winds up carrying the suppression gene, leading to large reductions in their overall numbers.

“Our solution has repeatedly shown it has significant potential to play a meaningful role in controlling invasive populations of Aedes aegypti,” said Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry in a statement released Monday.

But many Florida residents have been wary of the technology. An online petition started by Key West citizens in opposition to the release has obtained upwards of 170,000 signatures, and “No Consent” signs scatter the neighborhood of Key Haven, the original proposed site of the trial. Critics have voiced concerns about the mosquitoes biting and infecting them with god knows what. Others have likened the mosquitoes to GM crops, warning of “unintended consequences,” and some have pointed to the possibility the extermination of Aedes could harm Florida’s local predators, like bats.

Oxitec researchers say the gene tinkering is simple and that the modified mosquitoes are harmless to other animals or people they come into contact with. And since the vast majority released are male (upwards of 99 percent), there’s little worry of someone being bitten, since only females bite. In the rare case someone does get bit, their research has shown that the modified genes aren’t found in the saliva. Even the planned devastation of the local Aedes population would have little effect on the ecosystem, since they’re a non-native species.

In August, the Food and Drug Administration released their own verdict, finding that a field trial of the mosquitoes would pose no significant impact to human, animal, or environmental health. And other scientists have largely agreed with Oxitec’s claims. They’re more worried about whether the strategy can be effective on a large-enough scale, since it requires the continual release of more engineered mosquitos to work in the long-term.

While this latest development is certainly good news for Oxitec, it’s not a done deal just yet. Perhaps the most salient objection Key Haven residents have made is simply not wanting to be the company’s lab rats. Earlier, on Election Day, they voted in a nonbinding referendum against approving the release of modified mosquitoes within their neighborhood. However, voters in the larger surrounding Monroe County did approve the trial, a decision later reaffirmed by the Mosquito Control District. But while Oxitec’s been given the overall go-ahead, they’ll likely have to find another trial site, one which the FDA will have to formally approve as well.

The Zika Virus in Florida, Explained

The Florida health department just confirmed the Sunshine State is likely home to the first locally acquired Zika infections in the US.

On July 19, officials announced that a woman living in Miami-Dade County, Florida, had tested positive for the mosquito-borne and sexually transmitted virus. But unlike all of the other Zika cases reported in the US at the time, she had no travel history to a country with Zika. Since then, three other non-travel cases have popped up: two in neighboring Broward County and another in Miami-Dade.

State and federal health officials have been testing mosquitoes in the area for the virus for weeks. As of July 22, they’d interviewed more than 200 Florida residents who live near the non-travel related Zika cases, collecting urine samples, too.

“While no mosquitoes trapped tested positive for the Zika virus, the department believes these cases were likely transmitted through infected mosquitoes in this area,” the Florida Department of Health said in a statement.

A local Zika outbreak in Florida isn’t entirely surprising. Zika has been identified in mosquitoes in more than 60 countries and territories over the past year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that the southeastern US — particularly Florida and Texas — was at risk of outbreaks during mosquito season this year. It’s the region where the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes thrive in the greatest concentrations.

There have already been more than 1,400 traveler-related Zika cases in the US, while more than 4,700 people in US territories (mainly Puerto Rico) have acquired the virus locally.

Don’t panic

For now, Florida officials believe Zika is only transmitting in one small area in Miami-Dade County, near Miami.

And let’s be clear: Though Florida may be facing an outbreak, Zika is not expected to spread far in the continental US the way it has in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Based on data from similar viruses like dengue and chikungunya, also carried by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, officials expect small and limited outbreaks here.

The main reasons: the climate and the health system’s ability to control outbreaks.

You won’t find the Aedes aegypti mosquito in most of the US because the mosquito can’t survive in cooler climates. The southern areas that are hospitable to Aedes already have mosquito control efforts in place to deal with other, better-known mosquito-borne viruses. Americans are also likelier to have housing with air conditioning and screens. All these factors reduce the risk of Zika spread.

Zika isn’t a big health threat for most people

For most people, Zika virus isn’t a big health threat. In 80 percent of those infected, it causes no symptoms at all.

Twenty percent of people with the virus will experience relatively minor symptoms including fever, aches, headache, and rash. They usually appear two to 12 days after a bite and go away within a week.

For babies, however, the health effects can be devastating. The virus can move through the placental barrier and attack fetuses, causing birth defects, including microcephaly, or even fetal death.

Health officials are still learning about all the ways Zika can spread, but they believe mosquitoes are the main carriers and recommend taking precautions to avoid bites (wearing long sleeves and mosquito repellent, staying in cool places with screens on windows and doors). Since Zika can be sexually transmitted, they also suggest people practice safe sex with condoms or even abstain from sex, particularly if one’s partner is pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant soon.

Here Are The Top Ten Natural Mosquito Bite Remedies

Though some mosquitoes can carry the West Nile virus or the now-infamous Zika virus, most mosquito bites will do nothing more than cause an itch, which in itself can be absolutely maddening. Luckily, natural (and not so natural) mosquito bite remedies can provide itch relief so you can get back to enjoying the great outdoors this summer.

  1. Antihistamine cream. This is one of your best bets if you’ve suddenly found yourself the main course of a mosquito feast. When mosquitoes bite you (and siphon out your blood), your body sends histamines to the site of the bite because it doesn’t recognize the mosquito saliva. An over-the-counter antihistamine cream will help to soothe the itch. Make sure the active ingredient in your cream is dyphenhradamine to maximize effectiveness. Keep a stick or a tube handy when you’re spending a lot of time outdoors.

If you’d prefer a more natural remedy, or just don’t have any cream, there are some household ingredients you can try.

  1. Ice or a cold compress. A sure-fire way to soothe a mosquito bite fast is to give it a chill pill. The cold sensation will help numb the itch and help relieve any swelling associated with the bite. Studies have proved the cold can help reduce any histamine-related itch, so this might be helpful if you find yourself breaking out in hives from something else as well.
  2. Toothpaste. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, applying regular toothpaste to the bite site can help relieve the itch. This also can help reduce the pain of a fire ant bite (I’ve tried it – it works!). It might have something to do with the menthol in the toothpaste, which also creates a cooling sensation.
  3. Baking soda and water. Make a paste with baking soda and water, apply it to the bite and leave for a few minutes before washing off. Baking soda and water make an alkaline solution, which neutralizes the pH of the skin to provide itch relief.
  4. Lemon and lime juice. These can help relieve the itch, but only try this remedy if you haven’t already scratched the bites. Applying citrus juice to open cuts will sting. Also, only use lemon and lime juice if you’re going to be indoors for a while. Applying these outside can lead to severe sunburns.
  5. Vinegar. Another common household ingredient recommended by the almanac is vinegar. Vinegar’s antibacterial properties make it ideal for bug bites. Put a few drops on a cotton ball and wipe it on bites. If you have bites all over, pour a few cups in the bathtub with warm water and take a soak.
  6. Essential oils. If you happen to have tea tree oil in the house, its natural antiseptic properties can help relieve the itch. Lavender oil also has healing benefits. Lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, which means to wash. A dab of lavender oil can help reduce swelling and relieve discomfort.
  7. Honey. This golden goo has many health benefits. It can be used as a topical anti-bacterial ointment to keep bite wounds clean, and its anti-inflammatory properties will help lessen swelling.
  8. Aloe vera. If you have an aloe vera plant, cut a meaty portion of a leaf to extract the gel. You can apply the gel directly to the bite, or put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool before applying. Its natural antiseptic qualities will reduce swelling and itching.
  9. Tea bags. You may know that you can put tea bags on your eyes to reduce puffiness. They work the same magic on mosquito bites. Take a cool, used tea bag and place it on the bite.

The FDA Just Approved the First Human Trials of a Zika Vaccine

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first human tests of an experimental Zika virus vaccine, the makers of the drug announced on Monday.

Called GLS–5700, the medication will be used in a clinical trial involving 40 healthy people, and represents the first major step towards ultimately immunising people against Zika – which was declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in February.

“We are proud to have attained the approval to initiate the first Zika vaccine study in human volunteers,” said J. Joseph Kim, president and CEO of US-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals, which is developing the vaccine with South Korean partner, GeneOne Life Science. “We plan to dose our first subjects in the next weeks and expect to report phase 1 interim results later this year.”

GLS–5700 works by stimulating the body’s immune system to defend itself against Zika. Synthetic fragments of viral DNA are injected into the skin, prompting the immune system’s T cells to generate antibodies to fight the infection.

The news of the vaccine trial comes two months after the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the causative link between the infection and birth defects such as microcephaly, and represents the culmination of an intense nine months of vaccine development, during which global fears over Zika’s spread have only grown.

“As of May 2016, 58 countries and territories reported continuing mosquito-borne transmission of the Zika virus,” said Kim. “[T]he incidences of viral infection and medical conditions caused by the virus are expanding, not contracting.”

It’s worth pointing out that just because GLS–5700 has reached human testing, there’s no guarantee it will turn out to safely immunise people against Zika. The vaccine has been tested successfully in small and large animal models, but clinical trials in humans could take several years to demonstrate that the treatment is safe, and there’s no guarantee it will ultimately prove effective or make it through subsequent testing phases.

But fortunately, GLS–5700 isn’t the only Zika vaccine candidate currently in development. An Indian company called Bharat Biotech is researching Zika vaccine development in animals, while French pharmaceutical company Sanofi SA is expected to begin human trials with one of its drugs later this year.

In the US, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) says it’s expecting to shortly receive FDA approval to trial a separate vaccine candidate it developed itself, which would mean we could have two vaccines in human testing in a matter of weeks.

Earlier in the month, scientists from the University of Texas Medical Centre published findings on how a protein called interferon-induced protein 3 could help reduce Zika’s ability to infect brain cells – although clinical trials may be a while away for that particular treatment.

Even though there’s a huge amount of hurdles and potential roadblocks facing all of these vaccine trials, there’s reason to have hope.

“Always, the first vaccine to go into clinical trial is important,” epidemiologist Anna Durbin from Johns Hopkins University, who is involved with the NIAID vaccine effort, told Jessica Glenza at The Guardian.

“It means the FDA has reviewed it, and I’m sure is formulating questions and getting ready for additional candidates to submit their investigational drug applications,” she added. “It shows progress and momentum, and we just need to keep momentum going.”

Scientists Discover That This Victoria’s Secret Perfume Repels Mosquitoes

If your summer evenings are always ruined by mosquitoes, you might want to rethink your choice of fragrance. Scientists have shown that popular Victoria’s Secret perfume, Bombshell, can actually repel mosquitoes effectively for up to 2 hours.

While it isn’t anywhere near as effective as products containing DEET – one of the most common active ingredients in insect repellents – in high doses, the perfume was better than a range of ‘organic’ mosquito repellents on the market.

The result was unexpected, seeing as researchers originally decided to test the perfume in addition to their repellents because they thought it would actuallyattract mosquitoes.

“There was some previous literature that said fruity, floral scents attracted mosquitoes, and to not wear those,” said one of the researchers, Stacy Rodriguez, from New Mexico State University. “It was interesting to see that the mosquitoes weren’t actually attracted to the person that was wearing the Victoria’s Secret perfume – they were repelled by it.”

In the study, published in the Journal of Insect Science last year, the team tested the Victoria’s Secret fragrance up against 10 commercially available mosquito repellents, as well as Avon’s Skin So Soft bath oil.

To figure out which ones mosquitoes were or weren’t into, they took a volunteer and doused her hand in either perfume, bath oil, a repellent, or left it clean, and then placed it under a Y-shaped tube, which fanned the fragrance up to a group of around 20 mosquitoes.

If the mosquitoes were attracted to the hand, they’d move into one part of the tube, if they weren’t, they’d stay where they are or move into the other part.

They repeated these experiments several times per fragrance and over 4 hours each time to try and get a fair understanding of what was going on.

The team used two different mosquitoes species – the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), which is known to carry Zika virus in some parts of the world, and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) which can transmit dengue fever and chikungunya. All things you want to avoid.

Overall, the most effective repellents were those that contained DEET, which is an effective insect deterrent, but is also a known irritant.

The good news for those with sensitive skin, is that one product without DEET was also equally as good at getting rid of bugs: Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, which contained 65 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus.

But for up to 2 hours, the Victoria’s Secret fragrance Bombshell also kept mosquitoes away, as did the Avon bath oil – although the bath oil only repelled one out of the two species of mosquitoes tested, while Bombshell repelled both.

Interestingly, both the non-repellents performed better than many of the organic mosquito deterrents tested, and way better than a commercially available skin patch which deliver vitamin B1 into the skin and promises to protect against mosquitoes for up to 36 hours.

To be clear, in the experiment, a whole lot of Bombshell perfume was doused onto the volunteer’s hand – around 0.5 mL – and the researchers explain that in normal concentrations, the fragrance probably wouldn’t have the same effect.

So the bottom line is, don’t go and replace your mosquito repellent for perfume any time soon. But the team did also gleaned some useful information out of the research, which aimed to provide consumers better advice when buying repellents.

“Not all repellents are created equal – unfortunately they’re advertised as such,”said Rodriguez. “It’s important to let consumers know what is actually effective.”

That’s especially important with the rise of diseases such as zika virus and yellow fever spreading in tropical regions.

So why would a Victoria’s Secret perfume repel insects? More research needs to be done before we have an answer to that question, but the scientists hypothesise that it’s less to do with the ingredients in the perfume and more to do with the fact that it masked the natural smell of the volunteer – which is what attracts the insects in the first place.

Oh, and in case you were wondering why the researchers selected a Victoria’s Secret perfume out of all the perfumes available? It turns out it was a happy accident.

“We tested VS Bombshell because one of our test subjects had gotten it as a birthday present, so it was a completely random pick,” one of the researchers, Immo Hansen, told Today.

Did You Buy This? “Mosquito Shield Band” Maker Must Pay $300K For False Claims

With the Zika virus spreading across tropical regions of South and North America, consumers are likely looking for ways to ensure they aren’t bitten by disease-carrying mosquitoes as summer approaches. But there’s one option they should stay away from: so-called mosquito shield bands. 

A year after federal regulators determined the bands from Viatek Consumer Products Group — which supposedly used mint oil to create a 5-foot mosquito-free zone — don’t actually work as they’re advertised, the company has been ordered to pay a $300,000 fine and stop marketing the products.

Viatek, along with company owner and president Lou Lentine, agreed this week to settle charges the company made deceptive claims in order to sell the mosquito shield bands.

According to the FTC’s complaint filed against the company in Feb. 2015, Lentine and Viatek marketed Mosquito Shield Bands, wristbands containing mint oil, directly to consumers and through retailers, including the home shopping channel HSN, Walmart, and Home Depot, claiming the wristbands would protect users from being bitten by mosquitos.

The bands, which can still be purchased at retailers, were marketed as being able to create a “vapor barrier” that shields persons within five feet of the product from being bitten and provides users with 96-120 hours of protection.

The FTC alleged that the company did not have competent and reliable scientific evident to back up these claims.

“Defendants do not possess, and did not possess at the time they made the representations, competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate” what they claimed in advertisements the bands were able to do, the FTC wrote in its complaint.

In addition to taking on the company’s marketing of its mosquito shield bands, the FTC claims that Viatek and Lentine of violating a 2003 order  that prohibited the owner from marketing product claims without proper evidence.

Back in 2003, a predecessor company of Viatek was found to have marketed a different pest control device by making inaccurate claims in its advertising.

Under the FTC’s proposed order settling the case, Viatek and Lentine agree to have competent and reliable scientific evidence for future claims about the benefits, performance, or efficacy of any pest control product, and to have appropriate substantiation for similar claims made about any product they sell.

They are also prohibited from violating the 2003 order and must pay $300,000 to the Commission.

“With Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses in the news, consumers might be looking for products that protect them from mosquitos,” Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “The defendants took advantage of those concerns, and peddled a product without having scientific support that it effectively prevented mosquito bites.”

This Mosquito Egg Trap Made From Old Tires Could Help Stop Zika

The spread of Zika virus continues to worry health experts around the world, but researchers still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Canadian and Mexican scientists have been working together to come up with a simple but effective trap that uses mosquitoes’ own scent to trick them into giving up their eggs. These eggs are known to spread dengue, and are believed to be helping to spread the Zika virus too.

If the new invention looks like two parts of an old tire, because that’s exactly what it is. Called an ‘ovillanta’, the contraption creates a mouth-like shape using two 50-cm sections of a car tyre, with a fluid release valve at the bottom.

A mosquito pheromone – which works by signalling to mosquitos that this is a safe breeding spot – is mixed with a milk-based, non-toxic solution, and left in the lower section of the device. This encourages the female insects to lay their eggs inside the ovillanta, on top of wooden or paper strips that are then removed twice-weekly.

The captured eggs are analysed by researchers before being destroyed by fire or ethanol.

As for the solution, it’s drained, filtered and recycled back into the tire, with the concentration of the mosquito perfume increasing over time. Over a 10 month trial period, the researchers found the trap far more successful than standard bucket traps, while the number of reported dengue cases in the area dropped considerably.

Over the course of the 10 months, the team collected and destroyed over 18,100 mosquito eggs a month using 84 different traps near the town of Sayaxche in Guatemala. Using standard traps, around 2,700 eggs are usually collected each month on average.

It might not be the most high-tech solution, but that’s important in developing areas where resources are scarce and access to sophisticated equipment is limited.

“We decided to use recycled tires – partly because tires already represent up to 29 percent of the breeding sites chosen by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, partly because tires are a universally affordable instrument in low-resource settings, and partly because giving old tires a new use creates an opportunity to clean up the local environment,” said one of the researchers, Gerardo Ulibarri.

This particular Aedes genus of mosquito – the one held responsible for transmitting Zika virus as well as other diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever – has proven particularly difficult to control, according to the World Health Organisation, so this newly designed trap could have a significant impact.

The results of the research have been published in the F1000Research Zika & Arbovirus Outbreaks channel and are awaiting peer-review. The team behind the study has also uploaded a video showing how to make one of the traps yourself.

What You Need To Know About The Zika Virus (And How It Will Impact Your Travel Plans)

A virus — carried by mosquitoes — has taken over Brazil and is tearing across the globe. While the World Health Organization issues alarms and travel advisories, scientists are scrambling to assess the situation without much data.

So, what is the Zika virus? How will it affect you? Is it as big of a deal as people are saying? So far, the answer to that last question is “yes.” The New York Times warns us to expect four million infections by year’s end. Troops have been deployed to fight mosquitoes in Brazil. The W.H.O. will soon hold an emergency meeting in hopes of containing the virus before it creates Ebola-level panic.

What You Should Know About The Zika Virus

The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947, but remained mostly unstudied until now. The earliest case occurred in a monkey, and the virus rarely affected humans until 2007 when it hit the Pacific Ocean’s Yap Islands and, later, French Polynesia. Experts now worry the virus will “spread explosively”throughout the Americas. At least 31 cases have been reported in the U.S. so far, and vector-borne disease expert Uriel Kitron calls the virus a “game-changer” for its ability to pass though a pregnant woman’s placenta. Some affected babies won’t live long, and those that do will require medical support for their entire lives.

The Zika virus is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which differ from other types of mosquitoes by attacking humans during daytime hours. However, the disease may have spread to regular mosquitoes too (the dearth of information is certainly adding to the panic). As of now, experts believe up to 1.5 million people have been hit by the virus, which causes fever, inflammation and joint pain. To complicate matters, Zika often mirrors the dengue or chikungunya viruses. While 80% of infected adults will show only mild symptoms, the potential effects on pregnant women are devastating.

The infant below shows the telltale signs of microcephaly, which is evidenced by an abnormally small head and decreased brain development. The W.H.O. traced more than 4,000 reported Brazilian microcephaly cases in four months. To put that number in perspective, an estimated 150 cases of microcephaly were reported in 2014. Because researchers know little about the Zika virus, they are hedging their bets that other fetal effects may occur, too.

The neuro-pediatrician who recognized the Zika crisis, Dr. Vanessa Van Der Linden, captured these brain scans of a two-month-old infant to show the effects of microcephaly.

One U.S. expert says a Zika vaccine won’t arrive for years, so fumigation and breeding-ground crackdowns will likely be the best defense. The Zika cases that have slipped past U.S. borders mainly affect those who have recently traveled abroad. However, experts believe the mosquitoes might spread to our warmer, muggy climates — like those found in Hawaii, Florida, and Texas.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian crisis has grown so dire that the country’s army deployed more than 200,000 soldiers to help eradicate mosquitoes. These soldiers perform neighborhood sweeps to locate potential mosquito breeding grounds, and they teach residents what they can do to help reduce the risk of catching Zika.

In the absence of a cure or vaccine, fumigation stands as the primary weapon against the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Here, a woman walks through an anti-mosquito fog dispersed by Brazil’s Health ministry.

HOW ZIKA AFFECTS TRAVEL

The areas affected by the Zika virus comprise virtually all of Central America (it’s safe to bet that there will be confirmed cases in Costa Rica and Nicaragua soon). All of northern South America and most of the Caribbean are affected, too.

So, if you’re going to any of those places, you’re on notice. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go. It simply means you shouldn’t risk going if you’re pregnant. WHO and CDC are in agreement on this. The CDC’s mandate is crystal clear:

Because there is neither a vaccine nor prophylactic medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, CDC recommends that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

So far, airlines and resorts have been amenable to cancellations by parties traveling with pregnant women. Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines are letting pregnant women reschedule. So are prime honeymoon and babymoon destinations — including major chains like Hilton, Ritz-Carlton, and Grand Hyatt. United Airlines is currently offering full refunds. American Airlines is doing the same (they request a doctor’s note). Jet Blue is letting allconcerned parties have a refund or reschedule, this according to a spokesperson cited at the New York Times.

Point being: Cancellations seem easy to come by. In this era of corporations getting Twitter-shamed, no one wants to be the company who wouldn’t accommodate a pregnant mother. Early reports are that people are using these cancellation policies, too. Cruise ships have been hit particularly hard and have seen stocks fall.

If you plan a trip now, then fall pregnant, a doctor’s note ought to get you a refund. If you receive any pushback, you can expect travel insurance to cover you (again, with a doctor’s note). If being pregnant isn’t in your purview, it may be more difficult to cancel (but why would you?).

If you are pregnant and do go (simply because you want to or because you can’t avoid it), the CDC recommends extreme vigilance in mosquito prevention — long sleeves, repellent, mosquito nets at night, etc.