Zika virus starting to impact travel plans

Posted at 7:51 AM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 07:51:58-05

The Zika virus continues to be a growing problem with four counties in Florida now declaring an emergency.

Honduras has also declared a national state of emergency saying it has recorded more than 3,600 cases in less than three months.

Just this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first U.S case of the Zika virus being sexually transmitted.

The spread of the virus by mosquitos is also causing concern among local travelers looking to go to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean for spring-break and cruises.

"They are calling and asking what precautions they can take if they travel to the Caribbean," said Ron Luczak, vice-president of business development for the Travel Team, Inc. in Buffalo.

"Some people are a little skittish about it and they are afraid," added Deanna Diakos from Friend Ship Travel in Amherst.

"We've had a few cancellations, nothing massive," commented Brian Murray, director of travel for the AAA of Western & Central NY.  However, Murray said customers are considering changing destinations to other areas without the virus.

"Just this morning, we had folks who were going to the Myan Riviera in Mexico City. They were concerned and they actually changed their trip to Brussels, Belgium."

Ron Luczak said the virus has not changed business travel plans and most people are still planning on going to areas in the Caribbean. "We are telling them to take a lot of the best quality bug spray they can find."

Brian Murray said agents are suggesting other warm weather areas as options. "Southern California, Hawaii and Bermuda. There are opportunities for warm weather," said Murray.

Travel agents we talked with are advising people going to impacted areas to follow the CDC's guidelines for preventing mosquito bites.

"They have to wear long sleeves, don't go in the jungle and wear very strong repellant," explained Deanna Diakos.

The CDC is still urging women who are pregnant, and those hoping to become pregnant, to postpone trips to areas where the virus has been detected.

7 Eyewitness News reporter Ed Reilly talked with local travel agents to see how Zika is affecting travel plans.