Some of the world’s most popular tropical tourist destinations are also home to active transmission of the dreaded Zika virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, you may want to steer clear of these 13 vacation spots where the Zika virus has been transmitted.
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According to the CDC, public health officials in the island nation of Aruba, located off the coast of Venezuela, "have reported that mosquitoes in Aruba are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people." Because the virus is also spread through sexual contact, the CDC recommends that if you plan to visit Aruba, it's a good idea to avoid having unprotected sex — so plan on doing a lot of snorkelling.
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Like Aruba, the CDC lists Barbados as being at a level 2 alert for the Zika virus. At last count, the World Health Organization has confirmed seven pregnant women in the country with confirmed Zika infection.
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The first case of Zika in the Caribbean nation of Belize was reported in April 2016. By September, that number had increased to 42 confirmed cases of Zika, with another 341 suspected. As a bonus, the same mosquitoes that also spread Zika spread dengue fever as well, and Belize has has seen more than 3,000 reported cases of dengue fever in 2016 as well. Remember when a sunburn used to be the biggest concern on a tropical vacation?
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Numerous athletes refused to go to Brazil for the 2016 summer Olympics, and for good reason. In March of 2016, reports of Zika infection peaked, with 8,000 reported cases in the South American nation. Since then, reported cases slowed to 200 per week, with one government official declaring the outbreak is on the way out, and is "more than halfway through in Brazil."
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Cape Verde, a small island off the coast of Africa, is a popular vacation spot due to its gorgeous white sand beaches, but it's also the only part of the continent where the ZIka virus has been reported. While officials in Cape Verde are confident that they're winning the fight against Zika and expect to eradicate it from the region, the Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a Travel Health Notice, recommending pregnant women find another place to vacation.
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Once known primarily as a haven to hide money in secret offshore bank accounts, the Cayman Islands is now becoming known as a hotbed for the species of mosquitoes that carries the virus. As a result, officials are fighting the virus with genetically modified male mosquitoes that don't bite but will breed with females and produce offspring that are genetically programmed to die before reaching maturity with a goal of limiting the mosquito population.
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There have been more than 1,300 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Costa Rica, reports the WHO, characterized by a sharp rise in cases followed more recently by a slow decline in the number of confirmed cases.
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The popularity of Cuba as a vacation spot has increased exponentially in recent years, and a recent Zika outbreak appears to be under control. Although the CDC still lists Cuba as being on level 2 alert, it should be noted that there have only been three reported cases of people becoming infected with Zika within Cuba, and U.S. government officials who visited the country recently characterized Cuba's response to battle the virus as being "strong and effective."
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If you're on the fence about whether to visit Disneyland in California or Disney World in Orlando, be aware that Florida is the only state in the U.S. where there have been reported cases of ZIka infection, with approximately 40 cases confirmed in Florida by September 2016.
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Jamaica reported its first case of ZIka in January 2016, a number that by summer had risen to 16 confirmed cases and more than 1,500 suspected. One of the responses from the Jamaican government has been to test all pregnant women for the virus. However, some Jamaican doctors believe the government is downplaying the threat and under-reporting the true number of cases, which they claim is substantially higher than the official count.
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While there have been 5,854 reported cases of Zika in Mexico, it's important to remember that Mexico is a BIG country, and some regions are safer than others when it comes to the virus. For example, the Baja California region was Zika-free until fall 2016, and there are now two reported cases; the state of Veracruz, however, has the country's highest rate of Zika infection, with more than 1,500 confirmed cases.
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This U.S. territory is a Zika hotspot. According to the CDC, there have been nearly 30,000 locally acquired cases of Zika in Puerto Rico.
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Turks and Caicos
This Caribbean tourist destination was previously considered Zika-free until summer 2016, when the country's Minister of Health revealed there were five confirmed cases. While the minister claimed three of the cases were contracted somewhere else and the other two were being investigated, it was still enough for the CDC to issue a travel warning.