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
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.
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?
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.
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.
With parents that worked for the U.S. Foreign Service up until he graduated from high school, Chris was raised to have the heart of a nomad throughout his life. He has resided in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador throughout his years, and just recently spent the past four up in Canada finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy & English at the University of British Columbia. He is now devoted to writing about all things related to travel in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia.