Some Minnesotans seeking warmer weather have reconsidered their winter getaway destinations because of concerns about the Zika virus.
On Friday, travel agents reported some rescheduled trips, and all said they warned customers heading to affected areas. “It’s something that everyone needs to be aware of,” said Lenore Miller, owner of Minnetonka Travel and Cruises.
Miller said she hasn’t had any pregnant clients lately, but if she did, “I would advise them not to travel [to affected destinations]. We want to make sure they’re informed.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant to reconsider trips to Central America and much of the northern half of South America.
In adults, the virus can cause mild fever, rash and joint pain lasting several days to weeks. But when a pregnant woman gets the virus, it can cause severe, crippling birth defects, notably microcephaly, a smaller-than-normal head and brain, which causes a constellation of problems, including seizures, developmental delays and intellectual problems.
Travel Leaders in Albertville specializes in booking destination weddings, which tend to involve younger people, said owner Bonnie Lee. She’s recently canceled trips for about six travelers, including couples, because one partner was in the early stages of pregnancy, she said.
Some cancellations came just a couple of days before the trips were to begin, but Lee said she was able to get vouchers for the travelers. Most of those who cancel aren’t immediately booking new trips, but she said one couple changed their destination from the Dominican Republic to Nassau in the Bahamas.
In a couple of cases, Lee said with a laugh, she was hearing about pregnancies before the couples had informed their families.
At Travel Beyond in Wayzata, owner Craig Beal said he had one traveler cancel a trip to Costa Rica on Friday. Most of the tours his company operates are to India, Africa, Australia and Patagonia.
Tours going to Patagonia travel through Quito, Ecuador, but the high elevation there means mosquitoes aren’t a concern. “Usually Africa’s got Ebola and terrorism,” he said, listing recent travel alerts. “We get a break this time.”