If you’ve watched the news in the last six months, you’re likely aware of the mosquito-borne virus in Central and South America called Zika. Unfortunately, corporate travel managers with business travelers who work in that area also need to be concerned with the Zika virus. What should you know about the virus and how does it affect the health of your employees and your duty of care?
What is Zika?
- Zika is mosquito-borne virus that began spreading in Central and South American countries
- It can be sexually transmitted through males who have been infected
- The symptoms of Zika infection are mild, including fever, rash, conjunctivitis, joint/muscle pain, and headaches
- Only 20% of people infected even notice Zika symptoms
- It can lead to a birth defect called microcerphaly in infected pregnant women
- There is no Zika vaccine at this time
Recommendations for Business Travelers
- Pregnant women, and even women of childbearing age, need to be the most vigilant. It has been recommended that they defer travel to these Zika-affected areas.
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently released a new finding that the prevalence of Zika is substantially less above 6,500 feet above sea level. It is believed that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the virus, do not live in these high elevations. If possible, stay in these high elevation areas during your trip.
- Avoid bug bites by covering exposed skin and using bug spray. This handy infographic from the CDC provides additional tips to protect yourself.
What does this mean for a business’s duty of care?
Much about Zika is still unknown, however the World Health Organization has declared it an international health emergency. With that in mind, it is important to keep corporate travelers safe and healthy. Corporate travel managers should regularly monitor the CDC website and the World Health Organization website for updates and changes in protocol. Keep open communications with your business travelers about the virus and the risk. Make travel to infected areas optional. Locate medical facilities prior to business travel should an employee become infected and need attention in-country. Establish communication protocol to update and be updated by travelers needing help. Concerned travelers should also stay informed through the CDC.
As a top business travel management company, Christopherson Business Travel provides clients with SecurityLogic, a duty of care tool that helps corporate travel managers locate travelers in an emergency, verify their safety, and easily communicate information, should an emergency arise. To learn more about our travel management solutions, contact us here.