The Zika virus has not yet officially been seen in St. Barths, as of February 26 2016. As many surrounding Caribbean islands have been affected, you may want to be just as cautious. If you are a pregnant woman or if you have unprotected sex, be careful.
We also keep on a close eye on the dengue and chikungunya situations in St. Barths.
Here’s the situation in St. Barths, where the local and the French authorities are monitoring the situation closely.
Other St. Barths travel news from my blog:
Is the Zika virus now in St. Barths?
Short answer: No, no case has been found yet. Although the health authorities have counted 3 “suspicious” cases. And you have to take into account the fact that the Zika virus has officially been detected on our neighbor island of St. Martin (Hence’s the travel advisory notice by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC – about Saint Martin).
However, as the whole Caribbean area has been affected, the St. Barths and the French authorities want you to be cautious. If you are a pregnant woman, you should refrain from visiting. As of February 25, cases of zika viruses have been confirmed on 3 French islands: St. Martin (Where you will probably make a stopover on your way to St. Barths, if you travel by plane from the US), Guadeloupe (180 miles away) and Martinique (250 miles away from St. Barths, which is pretty far away).
The situation is very different from one island to another: More than 6,000 cases far south in Martinique, around 25 in Guadeloupe, 7 in St. Martin and 0 in St. Barths. So, the situation in St. Martin / St. Barths has nothing to do with that in Martinique, for instance.
Can the St. Barths authorities be trusted on reporting Zika virus cases?
St. Barts being a small, developed island, cases are carefully monitored by the local and French authorities. Reports from some other islands may be spotty, but St. Barths’s numbers are usually reliable, even if nobody likes scaring tourists away.
For instance, you can see below that the local authorities sent out a press release on January 29 to inform the public about the Zika situation in St Barths (It says that no case have been found, but that people should be very careful, especially pregnant women).
The same day, the local authorities released another communiqué about the outbreak of a dengue epidemic in St. Barths (Actually, there have been dengue cases for the last 3 years. It is called an epidemic when it reaches a certain level. Here, they say that 47 cases of dengue have been officially detected.
So, if the St. Barths authorities are transparent about dengue, I guess that they will be too about zika.
I personally rely on another source, the official French epidemics center, where all the health issues in St Barths have been made available : Institut Français de Veille Sanitaire pour Saint Barthélemy. End of February, no case had been officially reported by either local doctors nor the local hospital.
How to avoid the Zika virus and the dangerous mosquitoes?
Locals have been told times and times again about they should be doing to avoid mosquitoes from multiplying (like getting rid of old tires that can become breeding sites for mosquitoes, as they retain water).
Now, as a visitor, here’s what you could do:
- First, do not freak out. For the moment, the Zika virus has only be known to be dangerous to new borns. So, if you are a pregnant woman, avoid coming over.
- Zika may be transmitted through unprotected sex. Use condoms.
- Use DEET mosquito repellent (You can buy OFF at the Marché U supermarket, for instance)
- Wear long pants, long sleeves at dawn and at dusk
- Mosquitoes love black, sweaty clothes: Wear white, light clothing.
- Spray your arms and your feet: The Aedes mosquitoes really love biting feet, so protect this area.
- Put your sunscreen on AND THEN spray your body with mosquito repellent. Otherwise, the sunscreen will prevent the repellent from working.
Pregnant women and women who may become pregnant must be very careful. For the moment, I’d advise them against coming to St. Barths, until we all know more about the Zika virus.
Other visitors to Saint Barthélemy should use mosquito repellent and be careful.
For information about other mosquito-born diseases in St Barths, read: CHIKUNGUNYA VIRUS AND DENGUE FEVER IN ST. BARTS, WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.