Facts Over Fear: What You Need to Know About Zika To Have a Worry Free Vacation In Puerto Rico

Toro Verde Family

Setting the record straight on popular Zika misperceptions


When it comes to travel, the right information opens up doors that lead to amazing experiences and unforgettable trips. This is especially true for travelers fearful of the Zika virus in Puerto Rico. When travelers take the time to learn more about Zika in Puerto Rico, they’re more likely to choose fact over fear, and less likely to miss out on the opportunity to experience the beautiful beaches, historic architecture and welcoming culture of the Jewel of the Caribbean.


Misperception #1 – Puerto Rico Is The Center of The Zika Virus in The Americas


THE FACTS – In May 2015, The World Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert that Zika virus transmission was active in Brazil. The first locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus were not detected by the CDC in Puerto Rico until December 2015. Soon after, the CDC reported that several other countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean are experiencing active local Zika virus transmission.


THE REALITY – The current Zika virus outbreak did not begin in Puerto Rico. It began and continues to be centered in Brazil, which has more than 100,000 reported cases.


Misperception #2 – Everyone Who Goes To Puerto Rico Will Get Infected With Zika


THE FACTS – There are a number of simple, common-sense steps travelers can take to help avoid getting the Zika virus. The easiest way to avoid contracting the virus is to take steps to prevent mosquito bites and wear proper clothing while enjoying the outdoors. The CDC suggests that all travelers stay up-to-date on the latest Zika news before their trip, and take the following preventive actions during their trip:


  • Purchase and use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)/para-menthane-diol (PMD), or IR3535.
  • Follow instructions on repellent label and be sure to apply at proper intervals, as directed.
  • When wearing sunscreen, be sure to apply sunscreen first, then repellent once sunscreen has dried. The repellent needs to be on top to repel bugs!
  • Cover exposed skin with long sleeves and long pants, when possible, especially when traveling through rainforests and around standing water.
  • Keep all balcony doors and windows closed at night.


THE REALITY – By following the CDC’s simple guidelines, travelers can drastically reduce the likelihood of contracting the Zika virus and keep fear from driving their travel decisions.


Misperception #3 – The CDC Has Banned All Travel To Areas With Zika Cases


THE FACTS – The CDC has three travel level warnings, Watch Level 1, Alert Level 2, and Warning Level 3. Currently, the CDC has issued an Alert Level 2 notice to Puerto Rico (and other destinations), suggesting that travelers should “practice enhanced precautions” when traveling to Puerto Rico. In other words, the CDC is encouraging travelers to review its travel guidelines before traveling and follow its preventive precautions when on the island.


THE REALITY – Currently, visitors continue to enjoy Puerto Rico’s white sandy beaches, beautiful rainforests, and one-of-a-kind island culture on a daily basis. Understanding the facts about the CDC’s travel level warnings helps eliminate unnecessary fear about traveling to the island.


Misperception #4 – The Zika Virus Can Have Serious Health Implications For Anyone Who Contracts It


THE FACTS – When it comes to the Zika virus, the general population has little to fear. According to the CDC, 80 percent of people infected with the virus never even show symptoms, and when they do, those symptoms are typically mild and usually last only two to seven days. These symptoms include, fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes)—symptoms that can be mitigated with rest, fluids, and everyday medication.


Currently, the CDC suggests that the Zika virus only poses a serious risk to pregnant women and those trying to conceive. Their guidelines indicate that women in any trimester should avoid travel to destinations where active local Zika virus transmission is occurring.


THE REALITY – The Zika virus can have serious implications for pregnant women and those planning to conceive. Those not in this group have little to fear when traveling to areas with active local Zika transmission.


Misperception #5 – People All Over Puerto Rico Are Infected With Zika


THE FACTS – At this time, less than one quarter of one percent of Puerto Rico’s population has contracted the Zika virus. Since mosquito populations are lower near beaches and moving water, many of these cases are concentrated in areas away from typical tourist destinations. The Puerto Rican government has been working hand-in-hand with the CDC and the private sector to help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and combat the spread of Zika on the island. This collaboration has been key in the battle to keep the number of Zika cases relatively low on the island.


THE REALITY – A very small percentage of the Puerto Rican population has contracted Zika to-date.


Visit PuertoRicoNow.SeePuertoRico.com for more information on the Zika virus in Puerto Rico.