Is there Zika in Galapagos and Ecuador? Everything you need to know before traveling this year

This blog was last updated on April 24, 2019

In the fall of 2018, the Government Council for the Galapagos Special Regime suspended proposed legislation that would require all travelers that plan on visiting the Galapagos Islands to have and show valid proof of health insurance that covers their time in the archipelago. The law was scheduled to go into effect on November 1st, 2018, instead, it is now subject to review, awaiting further, official announcement from the Council. However, travelers arriving from countries currently facing outbreaks of yellow fever, such as, Brazil, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda are required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.

Having reached its zenith in 2016, overall numbers have since fallen dramatically and only about 4 cases have been reported since the beginning of 2018 along the coastal lowlands of mainland Ecuador (1 in Manabi, 1 in Guayas, 2 in Santo Domingo de los Tsachillas).
The Highlands of Ecuador remain devoid of the virus and the presence of the Zika in Ecuador and Galapagos is at an all-time low. In fact, the last reported cases of Zika in Galapagos were in 2017, thanks to ongoing and highly successful awareness and prevention campaigns carried out in the region.

Zika in Galapagos and Ecuador in 2018

Note the steady decline of reported cases of Zika in Galapagos and Ecuador in 2018, 2017 and 2016 throughout the year, with virtually zero cases reported for this year. Information courtesy of:

Why is the Zika virus of such great concern?

Zika has raised global concerns due to how strongly it is correlated with the fetal deformity known as microcephaly, which affects brain and skull development. This is a link that arose when, in Brazil, an extraordinarily high level of Zika and microcephaly occurred in the second half of 2015. Zika may also be linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, which affects a person’s immune system and causes nerve cell damage that leads to muscle weakness and paralysis, even. Fortunately, this latter effect is a pretty rare.

How is the Zika virus transmitted?

The Zika virus is mainly transmitted to people via mosquito bites. Intercourse with infected individuals is also another form of transmitting the virus.

Where does Zika in Galapagos and Ecuador in 2019 occur?

Guests at Northern Galapagos Islands landscape.

Our guests have a safe experience during their trip to The Galapagos Islands

There were zero reported cases of Zika in Galapagos in 2018 and there have been zero reported cases so far in 2019. The Galapagos terrain is simply so isolated that it rarely ever even sees mosquitoes. Connecting airports and the Galapagos National Park do an outstanding job of keeping at bay any invasive threats to Galapagos, too. You’ll find that airlines do their part by disinfecting and spraying airplane cabins with a non-toxic bug spray. They also screen luggage and individuals to prevent any unwanted “guests” from creeping onto the beautiful islands.

According to Ecuador’s Ministry of Health, Zika has been known to occur on Ecuador’s mainland at elevations below 1,200 meters (3,937 feet). This risk is easily circumvented by visiting the spectacular highlands of Ecuador – including the capital city of Quito – replete with loads of natural wonders to see! This includes Mashpi Lodge, meaning you can visit the jungle in Ecuador’s incredible Andean-Choco bioregion without having to worry about the threat of Zika which, again, is quite low throughout the country.

 Mashpi Lodge Ecuador cloud forest.

The spectacular view of Mashpi Lodge in the Andean Choco.

What other viruses/diseases are Galapagos free of?

Malaria is non-existent in the Galapagos and has not been reported in the Ecuadorian highlands.

Can’t Zika be passed from person to person? How easily does it spread?

A person with Zika can only pass the virus on to another person via intercourse. Once individuals recover from the illness, however, traces of the virus disappear completely within a matter of days or, at most, a week. This means that people formerly infected with the virus can’t pass it on to other people (via intercourse); mosquitoes that bite these individuals, too, won’t be able to carry the virus. An infant conceived after the virus has left the blood of the infected person will be safe from the virus.

What are the symptoms of Zika?

Most people that have been infected with Zika often won’t even realize they have the virus. But studies have shown that around 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will exhibit noticeable symptoms of the virus. These will manifest themselves in the form of a fever, rash, pain (particularly in the joints) and irritated eyes. Symptoms often don’t last any longer than a week.

How can I avoid Zika at lower altitudes in the Ecuadorian mainland?

The best way to avoid Zika is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, particularly from mosquitoes that inhabit the lower, aforementioned altitudes. As a result, keeping your travels throughout Ecuador close to the highlands and Galapagos means you are guaranteed to be completely safe from Zika.

As you can see, Zika in Galapagos and Ecuador in 2018 is nothing to worry about, given the tremendous nosedive that the presence of the virus has taken over the course of the past years and months!
Metropolitan Touring prides itself in offering our guests the safest and best experience of the Galapagos via our multi-guided expedition ships. Not to mention: We have a 24-hour Medical Officer onboard that is sure to assist our guests in the event of any emergency.

Travel in good company and safely throughout Ecuador and the Galapagos, today

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