The Zika Virus in Mexico: What You Need to Know

Posted: September 30, 2016

Author: Jessica S.

General ZIka (ZIKV) Information

The Zika Virus is a mosquito-borne viral infection which is transmitted by the same type of mosquito linked to dengue and chikungunya.

There have been identified cases now across four continents. It has been detected in more than 20 countries in the Americas, including the United States.

The spread of the virus may be linked to birth defects (micocephaly)  thus prompting countries to possibly advise pregnant women against going to the areas where it has been detected.
  Update: There is currently no conclusive proof that the two are connected, however investigations are ongoing and this is a major concern that has brought Zika to the world’s attention.

Symptoms can include: mild fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain, and general feeling of illness that  begin 2-7 days after infection. Four out of five people who are infected have no symptoms at all.

If you are not a woman of childbearing age, pregnant or trying to get pregnant, the Zika virus is unlikely to cause you any serious trouble.

ZIKV cannot be transmitted person to person or through the air, food, or water.
      Update: Possible spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported.

There is no vaccine or cure for Zika.

There have been no death so far attributed to the Zika Virus. Those infected usually just need to take asprin, drink water, and get lots of rest. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
      Update: Apirin and NSAIDs should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out. Medicine such as acetaminophen is suggested to relieve fever and pain.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a Level 2 Travel Alert: Practice Enhanced Precautions for those traveling to affected regions.

On February 1, 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a Public Health Emergency, the World Tourism Organization UNWTO recalls that according to WHO, there should be no restrictions on travel with the affected areas and that the travel measures noted in this link should be observed.

Important Update: On November 18, 2016 the World Health Organization declared that Zika was no longer a global health emergency and should be considered a dangerous mosquito-borne virus because, like malaria or yellow fever. Read, “Zika Is No Longer a Global Emergency


The Zika Virus in Mexico

The first case of Zika in Mexico was reported just recently in November 2015.

As of now, there are under 20 confirmed cases in only 6 out of 32 states, with a majority among the indigenous population in Chiapas. States with reported cases include:
Chiapas (Southern state bordered with Guatemala)
Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas (Northern, US border states)
Jalisco (West Coast state)
Tabasco (Gulf of Mexico state)
Queretaro (Central Mexico)
—Update: There are now 21 reported cases for this year, including Campeche and Yucatan.
—Update: Mexico has 34 confirmed cases representing just 0.03% of the total cases reported globally. All of these cases are from Mexican nationals living in rural areas, far from popular tourist destinations.
—Update: Mexico has 65 confirmed cases, refer to the map below from the Mexico Tourism Board.
—Update: As of April 18, 239 cases have been confirmed with the majority in Oaxaca and Chiapas.
—Update: As of September 5th, 2,388 cases have been confirmed

The Health Department in Mexico anticipates the virus will expand from South to North in the next months. It is expected that areas higher in altitude, such as Mexico City and surrounding states have less probability of developing a dangerous mosquito population because of the weather conditions.

Mexico has and continues to take steps to prevent the spread of the Zika virus infection through public service announcements and campaigns and preventive travel advisories and warnings. Mexico´s Epidemiological Surveillance System is fully prepared to recognize and diagnose infections by Zika virus.

The CDC has placed Mexico on an Level 2 Alert which advises to practice enhanced precautions. CDC/Mexico (see below).

There are currently no restrictions against travelers visiting Mexico*. Both the US Government and Mexican authorities have not placed a general restriction on visiting Mexico, only urged caution to prevent mosquito bites.


Guidelines and Preventative Measures

Stay informed about the ZIKV situation as it develops.

Prevent mosquito bites by covering exposed skin with sleeved shirts and long pants, and socks.

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents on exposed skin and reapply as directed. Insect repellents that contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or IR3535 are very effective and safe when used according to the label. If also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second

Sleep under a mosquito net to prevent bites.

There should be no restrictions on travel or trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission – UNWTO/WHO

Update: The CDC advisory recommends that women who are pregnant in any trimester consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If pregnant women do opt to travel to Zika affected areas, the CDC recommends to avoid mosquito bites during their trip. Specific guidance for women who are trying to become pregnant is also included in the CDC advisory.


Journey Mexico Recommends

At Journey Mexico, we take the health of our clients very seriously, but we strongly believe that the Zika virus does not pose an extraordinary threat to our travelers.

We have no known cases of Zika with any of our passengers or staff members and guides. We continue to monitor the situation specific to Mexico. At this time, there have been few reported cases overall.

We advise, as always, to travel sensibly and take precautions to avoid getting mosquito bites as they can also transmit other diseases  like dengue. We are only recommending that pregnant women consider visiting Mexico at another time in accordance with CDC/WHO advice. If your considering Mexico as a destination for future travel, we recommend purchasing travel insurance.


Update September 30th, 2016 Zika in Mexico

The CDC Zika Alert remains the same: Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions CDC/Mexico.

As of September 26th, thee have been 3,268 confirmed cases of Zika, with the majority of the cases in Veracruz (813), Guerrero (694) and Chiapas (561). You can find a complete state-by-state breakdown here.

The mosquitoes that spread Zika usually do not live at elevations above 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) because of environmental conditions. Travelers whose itineraries are limited to areas above this elevation are at minimal risk of getting Zika from a mosquito.

*The categories shown on this map are intended as a general guideline and should not be considered to indicate absolute risk. Elevation may vary within an area to a larger extent than this map can depict. The presence of mosquitoes may change seasonally, with increasing temperatures or rainfall, and may change over time.


To view Mexico’s Secretary of Health’s most recent update of confirmed cases in a state-by-state assessment  click here and scroll down to ‘Informacion Relevante’ and click the first link “Casos Confirmados de Infección por Virus Zika” . Updated weekly.


 Messages from the Mexico Tourism Board

Facts About Travel to Mexico - Oct 2016

Zika Virus Cases Are NOT Reasons to Change Travel Plans


Mexico Map Indicating Location of Zika - Apr 2016

Mexico Tourism Board’s Regional Director for North America, Rodrigo Esponda, recently said in an interview with Travel Weekly, “Zika is not particular to any destination. Where it has existed in Mexico has been very localized, and there have been very few cases. Throughout the years Mexico has had effective campaigns to eradicate other mosquito-borne diseases. The campaign has been done in the tropical areas, mostly the south and the rural areas, and these campaigns have been very effective. The places where Zika has taken place have been specific and rural with difficult access. It has not been an element that is present in the resorts.”


source: Travel Weekly / One-on-one with tourism board director by Meagan Drillinger



Mexico Map Indicating Location of Zika - Feb 2016

In an effort to help travelers understand precisely where in Mexico cases of the Zika virus have been found the Mexico Tourism Board released a map indicating where Zika has been reported.

“All of the resort areas are Zika-free … the Zika problem is not throughout the country,” said Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, CEO of Mexico’s Tourism Board.

Negrete noted that there are currently 65 reported Zika cases in Mexico. Of those, 35 are in Chiapas, 21 in Oaxaca, four in Nueva Leon, and one each in Jalisco, Sinaloa, Guerrero, Veracruz and Yucatan.



source: Travel Weekly / Mexico draws map indicating location of Zika cases by Michelle Baran

Mexico Remains Proactive in Reducing Risk of Zika Virus

February 9, 2016 – Mexico City –  No need to cancel vacation plans to Mexico’s top hot spots as the Mexico Tourism Board continues to improve on efforts to reduce the risk of Zika virus, especially in major international tourism destinations.

Through ongoing proactive communications and meetings with tourism destinations and travel partners, the goal is to keep the flow of information sharing open through open dialogue. Preventive measures and educational materials have been developed and disseminated, including posters and key facts; and infection reducing procedures are being reinforced.

“Our Mexico Tourism partners continue to demonstrate their strength in addressing travelers concerns,” states Jack E. Richards, President and CEO of Pleasant Holidays. “It’s very clear they are committed to being very proactive to reduce the risk of Zika, especially in the primary beach destinations of Huatulco, Mazatlan, Vallarta-Nayarit, Ixtapa, Cancun, Riviera Maya and Los Cabos. The Mexico Tourism Board sets a high standard for others to follow in similar situations.”

In a related survey released by the Travel Leader’s Group conducted to gauge the impact of the Zika virus on vacation travel, their findings note the majority of travelers are continuing with their travel plans where there have been confirmed Zika virus cases.

The latest reports from Mexico are a total of 65 cases in only 8 states. Of the prior 34 reported cases, patients are on the road to recovery and new cases will be treated immediately. The Zika virus reported is a low-grade strain and non-life threatening. It is important to note that the cases in Mexico represent a nominal percentage (less than .003%) of all the cases, globally.

“The reality is Zika virus does not pose a massive risk to health in Mexico,” notes Pablo Kuri Morales, Mexican Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion.

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) February 1, 2016 statement confirms there is no reason to cancel or change travel plans to any country reporting Zika virus cases, including for pregnant women. With this advisory applying to all countries, even those with high numbers of cases, it’s yet another reason that Mexico, with a very low number of cases, continues to be a destination that millions of tourists are visiting each month.

Zika Virus Poses No Risk to Mexico Tourists

February 3, 2015 – Officials from Mexico’s Ministry of Health met with tour operators from the United States and Canada yesterday in Cancun, Mexico, at a meeting organized by the Mexico Tourism Board.

The meeting focused on a report of the latest Zika virus facts, the prevention and containment efforts by the Mexican government and tourism industry, and a continued practice of close coordination with the international tourism industry.

Dr. Alberto Diaz Quiñonez, Deputy General Director of the Mexican Institute for Diagnostic and Epidemiology, shared that Mexico has only 34 confirmed cases of the Zika virus, representing just 0.03% of the total cases reported globally. All of these cases are from Mexican nationals living in rural areas, far from the tourist destinations frequently visited by international tourists.

Dr. Diaz shared, “While the Zika virus is inevitable in Mexico given its vast size, climate and trade in the region, the number of cases remains very low. Strong prevention efforts have already been in practice for years to prevent similar diseases.” He went on to emphasize, “Given these facts, there is no threat to tourists visiting Mexico.”

For several years Mexico’s major tourist destinations and businesses have practiced world- class procedures to control the mosquito population and minimize cases of dengue and other diseases.

Hotels, restaurants, airports, and other areas frequently visited by tourists have in place mosquito eradication practices and closely follow international guidelines to monitor and control their growth. Given that the Zika virus is contracted in a manner similar to other mosquito-borne diseases that Mexico has long been combating, the entire country and especially its tourist destinations, are already well prepared to contain this latest disease.

Dr. Diaz referenced the World Health Organization (WHO)’s February 1, 2016, statement confirming that there is no reason to cancel or change travel plans to any country reporting Zika cases, including for pregnant women. With this advisory applying to all countries, even those with high numbers of cases, it’s yet another reason that Mexico, with a very low number of cases, continues to be a destination that millions of tourists are visiting each month.

Following the meeting, the group of international tour operators affirmed that Mexico’s comprehensive preparations and control measures give them the confidence to continue to recommend travel to Mexico for all tourists.

Mexico tourism industry not impacted by the Zika Virus

Mexico City, Mexico, January 21, 2016 – The Mexico Tourism Board reported that the Zika virus infection is a new and emerging disease in the country with only a minimal number of cases identified. Epidemiologic studies have found that the virus is under control in the country. With very few cases identified and containment efforts in place the tourism industry in Mexico has not been affected and is not at risk.

The Ministry of Health of Mexico launched a variety of measures to maintain epidemiological control of the virus and limit its potential to spread. As the Zika virus infection is similar to that of dengue and chikungunya, prevention programs, health communication activities, and epidemiology screenings implemented since 2014, have helped to minimize the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in the country.

Measures to prevent and control the virus will remain in place to inhibit an outbreak. Additionally, stronger clinical services and operations, epidemiology screenings, health communication programs and vector control efforts have been deployed.

The Mexico Tourism Board urges visitors to follow the guidelines presented by the Ministry of Health of Mexico to reduce the chance of mosquito bites.

Recommendations for the public and pregnant women:
• Wear long sleeves, pants, and bug repellant
• Wash and cover the containers and dishes that hold water
• Keep doors and windows closed and use screens
• Follow prenatal care guidelines




Sources & More:

Latin American Travel Association – Zika Virus Questions and Answers (Mar 2, 2016)
World Tourism Organization UNWTO – Zika Statement
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Zika
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Interim Guidelines for Pregnant Women During Zika Outbreak
Pan American Health Organization – Zika
Mexican Government – Zika Virus Infection in Mexico
Mexcio’s Secretary of Health – Zika (Spanish)
The Guardian – Zika Virus Speading Explosively – Zika Virus in Mexico




This post was written and published on January 29, 2016. As information continues to evolve with research and  reported cases, we will add update this post as best as we can, noting any additions. We recommend the CDC website for the most up to date information. 


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10 Responses to “The Zika Virus in Mexico: What You Need to Know”

  1. Jessica

    I am wondering where you got the information regarding a confirmed case in the Yuctan Peninsula? I will be traveling there and would like to see the official confirmed case in Yucatan. Thanks.

  2. Tori

    Can this blog be updated with the latest numbers? There is now reported cases in Cozumel and i like to share the this link with people I know traveling g to have accurate data. Please and thank you!

  3. Forrest

    How about travel to Baja? From everything I have read it looks like there have not been any confirmed cases of Zika in Baja and no real threat in this area (specifically San Felipe).


  4. Jaime


    I am travelling to Riviera Maya at Christmas. What state is this and have there been any confirmed cases please? Thank you


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