Long haul travellers could be at risk say Lanarkshire health chiefs

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Health chiefs have issued warnings for travellers who may be at risk from a virus that could make their holiday memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Although commonly associated with South America, there are a number of other destinations, including Barbardos, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, linked to cases of the Zika virus, according to a NHS website.

All the locations are on direct routes from Scottish airports.

Popular choices for those who want guaranteed sun and are prepared to travel a bit further afield, often on an all-inclusive package, some of whom may even be on their honeymoon.

Two other Transatlantic destinations directly accessible from Scotland, Florida and Cuba, are not thought to pose the same risks at time of going to press. Nor is Jamaica affected.

However, the website, www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk will be providing-up-to-date reports on this.

Dr David Comrie, who is a consultant in public health medicine at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “We would recommend that people who are intending to travel to countries affected seek the most up-to-date advice from their surgery or travel clinic, ideally six to eight weeks before leaving.

“To reduce risk of infection, travellers should avoid being bitten by mosquitos by using insect repellent, wearing loose clothing that covers the limbs and sleeping under a net where malaria is also a risk.

“There is evidence to suggest that women who contract the virus during pregnancy may have an increased risk of having a baby with microcephaly – an unusually small head which can be associated with abnormal brain development.

“Current advice is that women who are pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their doctor.

“If they are already pregnant, they should consider postponing travel to any region affected by the Zika virus.

Already, two companies with Cumbernauld-based branches have made accommodation for travellers who wish to change their bookings

Thomson says that customers travelling to Mexico and Barbados who have a doctors’s note confirming their pregnancy and want to change their destination can do so without being charged.

Thomas Cook is offering alternative destinations for those who are or who may be pregnant that are travelling to affected areas before April 30.