Zika virus is likely to spread across the European countries after being predominately contained in Caribbean islands and Latin America (we wrote about it in our “Zika Virus Outbreak: How Is It Dampening the LATAM and Caribbean Economies?” article in May 2016 issue). While Zika is expected to arrive to Europe this summer, World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of virus transmission across European countries is low to moderate.
Europe should brace itself as Aedes aegypti mosquitos (Zika virus transmitters) are likely to flock the continent in summer months, which provide an ideal thriving temperature for the mosquitos. The risk of transmission is expected to vary across countries. Madeira Island and the north-eastern Black Sea coast are highly susceptible to the virus if appropriate measures are not taken to alleviate the threat. In countries such as France, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Israel, Spain, Monaco, San Marino, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Romania, among others, the likelihood of Zika transmission is expected to be moderate. Northern countries, including Belarus, Latvia, Iceland, Estonia, and Finland are not likely to be impacted by the virus. As of April 2016, The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control registered 452 Zika cases across Europe imported by travelers, however, no local infection has been detected yet.
For the regions with moderate to high probability of Zika breakout, WHO has urged to bolster vector-controlled measures to reduce mosquito breeding sites. Also, the countries are required to increase preparedness by training health experts, so that they can impart care to people affected with Zika, particularly women.
Zika’s impact on tourism or economies of European nations still remains unclear, as the virus outbreak alert has just been issued. However, there is a probability that tourism might be impacted, as pregnant women have already been alerted to postpone travel to areas with likelihood of virus transmission. Several travel companies have declared that they will be as flexible as possible with pregnant customers. Further, with regards to EURO UEFA Championship 2016 scheduled in France (moderately susceptible to Zika), WHO has assured that it has the capacity to detect and curb local Zika virus transmission, if it occurs.
European countries have already started taking precautionary measures to mitigate risk of Zika transmission, hence, the intensity of impact on tourism or economy is likely to be lower as compared with LATAM and Caribbean regions.