Department of Foreign Affairs expands Zika virus advisory to 32 countries

Pregnant women should consider postponing their travel to affected areas

Zika virus, Ireland, advisory, affected areas, public health emergency, WHO, Department of Foreign Affairs

Reported active transmission of the Zika virus (in purple) | Image: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Department of Foreign Affairs has expanded a travel advisory to 32 countries and territories, over risks associated with the Zika virus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the situation a public health emergency.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has reminded Irish citizens to be aware of the risks of the virus - and to take appropriate precautions if planning travel to Central America, South America or the Caribbean.

The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to a steep increase in the number of babies born with severe birth defects, including abnormally small heads, across the Americas.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says officials are continuing to monitor the situation closely.

"We would particularly urge pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant to consult with their healthcare professionals and to consider postponing their travel to affected areas", Mr Flanagan said.

"This is particularly relevant for travel to areas classified as having 'increasing or widespread transmission' of the Zika virus".

"Any citizens intending to travel to the Caribbean or Central and South America should ensure they take the proper precautions against mosquito bites and secure the necessary vaccinations for this type of environment".

"My Department will remain in close contact with the HSE and with our missions in the Americas in relation to this outbreak", Minister Flanagan added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has so far issued advisories for:

  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Cabo Verde
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Curacao
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Fiji
  • French Guiana
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Maldives
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • New Caledonia
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saint Martin
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Suriname
  • Thailand
  • US Virgin Islands
  • Venezuela

However, the department adds that not all these countries are associated with the same level of risk - and are categorised as 'an increasing or widespread transmission' of the disease, or 'sporadic transmission following recent introduction'.