With the summer travel season kicking into high gear over the next several weeks, Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, and other state officials announced this week that a Zika education and warning campaign will soon be underway at Bradley International Airport.
The campaign, a joint effort between the state Department of Public Health (DPH), Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA), federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and JetBlue, will focus on passengers traveling to and from San Juan, Puerto Rico on JetBlue’s two daily flights, but will also be seen by other travelers who may be connecting through other airports on their way to areas in the Caribbean, or Central/South America currently affected by Zika virus.
Puerto Rico has seen more than 1,700 Zika virus cases, including 191 in pregnant women. Last month, Puerto Rican health officials reported their first case of Zika-linked microcephaly.
Starting Friday, posters in both English and Spanish will be placed on the jet bridges for the flights to San Juan. The posters warn travelers to the American Tropics of the risk for mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika, and advise steps to avoid mosquito bites. Other posters focus on travelers returning from the American Tropics, providing information on symptoms to watch for and advise seeking treatment if symptoms arise. Posters will also be displayed on the JetBlue baggage carousel with advice for returning travelers. DPH has also produced a wallet-sized, fold out pamphlet with Zika information that will be handed out to passengers boarding the JetBlue flights to San Juan. The TSA will begin showing a series of public service announcements (PSAs) on Zika virus featuring Lt. Governor Wyman and DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino on the video monitors in the TSA passenger screening areas. As with all the materials at the airport, the PSAs are in English and Spanish.
“We continue to remain vigilant. That’s why our agencies are working so closely together on this critical issue. We want everyone to enjoy their summer travels and have fun vacations, but we also want to make sure travelers remain educated on Zika and do what they can to avoid harm,” Governor Malloy said. “It’s our obligation to protect residents, and this information outreach campaign is another proactive effort.”
“Raising awareness about the Zika virus is a priority in Connecticut – it’s a matter of protecting the public health,” Lt. Governor Wyman said. “Prevention is key, and this campaign helps travelers to higher-risk areas minimize their exposure and the potential of transmitting the disease to others. Equally important is access to good healthcare – especially for pregnant women. I applaud our partners for their commitment to the health and well-being of our residents.”
“Travelling to the tropics should be about rest, relaxation and fun with family and friends, but it is critically important that pregnant women, women who plan to become pregnant and their male partners consider the risks of Zika virus infection and take all necessary steps to avoid mosquito bites while in an affected area. A week of fun in the sun is not worth the risk of having a baby born with serious birth defects that require a lifetime of care and costs,” Commissioner Pino said. “I am grateful to the CAA, TSA and JetBlue for their partnership in this effort to educate travelers on the risks associated with Zika virus and the steps that should be taken to avoid contracting the disease, which can be especially devastating for pregnant women.”
As of Wednesday, the CDC has reported 755 travel associated Zika cases in the US.