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Zika Virus Update

Published: 08 Mar 2016

The World Health Authority (WHO) emergency committee recently declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus a global emergency, the same rating as ebola, which means that extra funding and resources will be available to help combat the virus.

The situation is very fluid and the number of countries with confirmed cases is changing daily.  Most infections are mild and cause few or no symptoms with most people recovering on their own. However, there are risks to the unborn baby if a pregnant woman is infected. 

There’s currently no specific treatment available for the virus, other than rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking recommended medication to ease any symptoms of pain and fever. As the situation develops, we’ll continue to monitor it closely and update you accordingly.

We’ve put together the following guidance to help you answer any questions your clients may have:

• Mosquito bite prevention –   clients (particularly pregnant women) traveling to an area where the infection is present, should take action to help control the risk of mosquito bites.  This includes; using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets.

• Clients who think that they may have contracted the virus - should visit their doctor for advice in the first instance.  Blood tests are available to diagnose the group of viruses that Zika belongs to, and this will guide the medical advice given.

If the client is abroad and covered on one of our International PMI policies, we would look to consider benefit for the medical practitioner cost and blood tests.

• In the unlikely event of a domestic private medical insurance (PMI) customer being referred to a consultant, cover may be available under the terms of their policy. Cover for consultations will also be considered on our International PMI policy. We will also consider cover for hospital treatment for an acute phase of the condition on both our domestic and International PMI policies.

• As the Zika virus is not one of the pregnancy complications covered by either our domestic or International PMI policies, pregnant mothers are not covered for diagnostic tests.

Pregnant mothers with an International PMI policy will be covered for diagnostic tests, relating to their unborn child, if the maternity benefit was chosen.

• Domestic PMI customers who become acutely unwell abroad will be eligible for treatment when admitted as a day-patient or in-patient under the emergency cover section of their policy, if applicable, although it is rare for the Zika virus to result in serious symptoms.

Babies needing acute care at birth will also be covered under the mother’s domestic private medical insurance. Once the acute phase of care has been dealt with, the condition would be deemed chronic and would not be covered under the policy.

Benefit is also available to International PMI customers under the Newborn cover on the mother’s policy. 

You can find more comprehensive information in our Zika Virus Q&A documents.

International PMI Q&A        Domestic PMI Q&A

This is information is designed to provide guidance only and should be read in conjunction with your client’s terms and conditions documents.

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