Since March 2017, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced an updated classification of countries at risk of Zika virus (ZIKV), Public Health authorities across the UK have been reviewing recommendations for travellers and considering whether the UK categorisation of countries as High, Moderate, Low or Very Low Risk required to be adapted.
At the beginning of August 2017, Public Health England (PHE) announced that they had decided to update their categories, based on the WHO guidance, and had produced a new Zika country A-Z risk rating table. As a result, the UK categories have been reduced to three– High, Moderate and Low – with only the High and Moderate categories having associated travel advisories for pregnant women.
The Travel and International Health Team (T&IH) at Health Protection Scotland (HPS) have assessed the PHE rationale for changes to ZIKV guidance and have agreed to adopt a similar approach to country risk ratings and associated travel advisories for pregnant women. Using the A-Z ratings produced by PHE, the team have applied appropriate country specific changes across TRAVAX, fitfortravel and the HPS website.
All associated ZIKV travel health advice including details on outbreaks in specific countries will continue to be monitored by the T&IH team and updated regularly on TRAVAX.
In summary, the main advice for travellers is:
Please determine the risk of ZIKV transmission within the country using the risk categories produced by PHE
All travellers to countries with a risk of ZIKV transmission must consider:
Travellers to countries at High or Moderate risk of ZIKV transmission should avoid the risk of sexual transmission of ZIKV by the use of contraception and condoms during travel and for:
- 8 weeks afterwards if female.
- 6 months afterwards if male.
Pregnant travellers are advised to:
- Postpone non-essential travel to a country at High Risk of ZIKV transmission.
- Consider postponing non-essential travel to a country at Moderate Risk of ZIKV transmission.
There are no restrictions for pregnant women travelling to countries with a Low Risk of ZIKV transmission.