You were finally planning your trip to Peru, a place on your bucket list for a long time, but suddenly a mosquito is ruining your trip. The media talks about a monster virus that could potentially affect millions, but what is the real situation in Peru and how worried should you really be?
Peru reported yesterday its first case of the Zika virus, but the infected man contracted the virus in Venezuela, meaning that no mosquitoes carrying the virus in Peru have been found yet. Compared with other countries, like Brazil or Colombia (or even the United States with 36 cases), Peru still looks good but the authorities, used to dealing with Dengue, Chikungunya or Yellow Fever, are taking important measures to reduce the risk of the virus spreading in the country. In Lima, they are working with shanty towns and settlements near rivers educating the locals about the importance of not leaving standing water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes. As a tourist, unless you decide to visit a shanty town, you would not notice anything out of the ordinary or be worried at all. Metropolitan Lima is actually very modern and hasn’t reported any cases which, unfortunately, always seem to affect the poorest segments of the population.
But what about Machu Picchu? After all, it is one of the main reasons for your trip to Peru, right? The good news is that this type of mosquito is not found in that area due to the altitude. This particular mosquito cannot live at altitudes higher than 6,000 feet and both Cusco and Machu Picchu are higher, at 11,152 and 7,972 feet, respectively.
Other things you should know about the Zika virus is that it has been around for decades but nobody paid any attention to it because it was considered very mild. Most people do not even know they have it manifesting no symptoms, some experience flu symptoms, and in all cases it is out of your system in 21 days, not leaving any consequences or risks for the future. In Brazil, however, cases of babies being born with birth defects, have triggered alarm bells, so extra precaution is certainly advised for pregnant women. Peru, as stated before, is quite safe and as long as you apply common sense and don’t venture too much off the beaten path, should still be on the top of your bucket list this year.