Airlines asked to spray insecticide on all UK bound planes returning from Zika areas
5 February 2016 • Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, International Airport Review
The UK government has asked all airlines to use insecticide on all flights returning to the UK from countries with confirmed transmission of the Zika virus.
All aircraft returning to the UK from countries currently affected by active Zika virus transmission will be sprayed with insecticide as part of the UK government’s response to the disease.
On Monday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the issue of microcephaly – which may be linked to Zika – a public health emergency of international concern.
As a precautionary measure, the government is asking airlines to ensure that disinsection (spraying with insecticide) takes place on all flights to the UK from countries with confirmed transmission of Zika.
Disinsection already takes place on flights to protect against malaria
Disinsection involves spraying a simple insecticide inside the aircraft to reduce the risk of passengers being bitten by any mosquitoes that could have entered the aircraft. It already occurs on the majority of flights from the region as a precaution against malaria.
The move is consistent with advice from WHO Europe. The type of mosquito that transmits the virus is extremely unlikely to survive and breed here given the lower temperatures in the UK.
“Spraying insecticide is a highly precautionary measure”
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: “Spraying insecticide is a highly precautionary measure to reduce the risk to passengers during flights to the UK.
“I want to reassure people that the risk to the UK population is extremely low. We advise people travelling to affected areas to reduce the risk of themselves being bitten by wearing mosquito repellent, long sleeves and trousers. Pregnant women should consider avoiding travel to countries with the Zika virus – or if travel is unavoidable, they ought to seek travel health advice from their GP or a travel clinic well in advance of their trip.”