Zika Virus: Airlines, Cruise Company Allow Employees to Avoid Outbreak Countries

Zika virus has spread throughout the Americas since early last year.

ByABC News
February 4, 2016, 5:00 PM

— -- Lufthansa Airline, Delta and Carnival Cruise Line are among the travel companies stating that employees can change their schedules to avoid work in areas affected by the Zika virus outbreak.

The three travel companies confirmed to ABC News today that they either had policies in place or amended policies that concerned employees to avoid Zika-affected countries.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has spread throughout the Americas since it was first detected in Brazil in May 2015. It usually causes mild symptoms including rash, fever and fatigue that resolve in a week. However, the virus has been associated with a worrying rise in a dangerous birth defect called microcephaly in Brazil.

A Delta Airlines spokesman sent a statement to ABC News clarifying that the company has a standing policy to work with crew members who have health concerns and that they have given the option to crew members to change travel plans to avoid any country affected by the Zika virus.

"Since mid-January we've offered the option for any crew member (pilot and flight attendant) with concerns to swap out a scheduled trip if traveling to areas flagged by the CDC," Delta said. "I will also tell you that a small number of crew members have swapped trips to date."

A Carnival Cruise Lines spokeswoman said employees on ships or in ports are "being provided various options to preclude them from working in Zika affected geographies."

Additionally, an official from Lufthansa Airlines told ABC News that the company has a standing policy that an employee can decline traveling to an area if they are concerned about their safety. The company also has a standing policy that pregnant employees do not work on flights for the duration of their pregnancy.

United Airlines, American Airlines and Air France are also allowing employees to avoid Zika-affected areas, according to a Reuters report. These airlines did not immediately respond to requests by ABC News for comment.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised pregnant women to reconsider traveling to any country where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. The agency has also advised women considering pregnancy to talk to their health care providers before visiting a country affected by Zika virus and to take precautionary measures if they decide to visit a Zika-affected area.