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Friday, January 13, 2017

Zika - the Godzilla that Attacked Tourism

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of all the fear mongering going on out there, and there's a lot of it. Between Daesh (ISIS), the "criminality" of Latinos, the Canadian axis of evil (yeah, that's an actual thing), Russian hackers, coed bathrooms and fake food, one can hardly take a breath anymore.

The Olympics in Rio was another theatre for consternation. Who wouldn't come because of fears of Zika? I can think of about a dozen reasons not to have gone, outside of the latest illness outbreak, but what do I know? Oh, yeah, right. I'm in a "Zika" country. And now there was an article on one of the news channels about where to go to avoid Zika. I know that health is important, but I really feel like we're always being led down this path of paranoia; that the media is making mountains out of mole hills, so to speak.

All of Ecuador has been black balled because of some cases on the coast. It doesn't matter that, where I live, high in the Andes, that mosquitoes aren't actually a problem. We don't have malaria, yellow fever or Zika - it's pretty safe to visit, if those are your concerns. Now, if I was an Olympian, I'd have been more worried about the sewage floating around in the ocean and rivers, about the pollution in the city, the dodgy drinking water and the pesky problem of an impoverished country pouring in billions of dollars when it's population is gripped with unrelenting poverty, or its environment being ravished for natural resources, which poisons the water further and adds to climate change. (You know, that thing that doesn't exist.)

El Cajas, Cuenca Ecuador
Don't get me wrong, the affects of Zika can be daunting, especially for those that are pregnant of with weakened immune systems. But, truly, this is a common sense issue. If you're pregnant or wanting to be pregnant - avoid areas with Zika. If you have a weak immune system - avoid areas with Zika, but if you're healthy adult, you'll most likely be okay. Use bug repellent and cover up at high risk times.Think about all the virus outbreaks that have caused panic around the world: SARS, avian flu, Spanish flu etc. What have you heard of them lately? Not much. Malaria has been around forever and people still travel to places that are hot spots, even though there still isn't a cure for it.
English Bay, Vancouver, Canada - No Zika there
I guess I'm biased. The South American countries that are affected rely heavily on tourism. They can little afford to have that stream of income cut off because of mostly unwarranted fear. I concede that nothing is more important than your health. (Trust me, I'm learning a valuable lesson about that as I type!). Yet, there are things that are worth a very educated risk So do your homework...I'm not a doctor, but Zika isn't high on my worry list, to be sure and then get out there and see this amazing continent!


  1. I agree that fear mongering has become an integral part of "news" these days. I well remember the SARS "epidemic" when it happened. There was even a theory that it was hyped as a pay-back for the mad cow "epidemic" that preceeded it. Who knows what to believe anymore. On a different note, I hope that you are finding some relief for your back which was causing you pain lately. -Jenn

    1. Yes, this "post-truth" era is truly scary. As to the back, I'm healing slowly, but more on that in an upcoming blog. Happy new year, Jenn!