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Michiana travelers weigh in over Zika virus concerns

The Indiana State Department of Health revealed on Tuesday the first Indiana case of the Zika virus has been confirmed.

State Health officials say a non-pregnant Indiana resident recently traveled to Haiti and contracted the disease.

But are residents in Michiana concerned about traveling with the outbreak of the Zika virus?

 “It’s not a concern to me,” says Michiana traveler Hazel Smith.

Like many, Smith not only travels for work but also enjoys traveling with her family.  Smith says the recent Zika outbreak, including the first known case in Indiana, has not, nor will it stop her from traveling.

“No one is mentioning it. I was just in Hong Kong and no one is mentioning it,” says Smith.

Smith also travels to Central America to see family.

“I was just talking to some of my family from Nicaragua and it’s not a concern at all there. And there’s no known cases of that virus there,” says Smith.

And while the Zika virus may be a scary, it is the new reality.

“I think it’s our new reality. There are diseases coming and going all of the time. There were different kinds of Avian flu, cold viruses, new or old coming around or going around. I don’t think this is something to be concerned about, but then again, I'm not a doctor,” says Smith.

The Zika virus is primarily spread through mosquito bites. There have also been some cases of the virus spreading through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person.

But what about travel agents? Are they feeling the effects of the virus with declining ticket sales?

“We haven’t had anyone that has canceled, but the virus that carries a child or plans to be pregnant. We haven’t really seen it effect our area. Maybe because of cold and snowing and people aren’t thinking about it. But we haven’t had any cancellations. We have one person that is thinking about becoming pregnant and she is going to travel and going to be cautious,” says Candis Coleman, Manager of Operations at Travelmore.

Airlines such as Delta have also taken a step by placing travel advisories on their website and telling those concerned to contact the airline directly.

Coleman says traveling comes down to personal preference. Something that Smith and her family will continue to do despite the outbreak.

“Me taking my family, I have no concern as my children are young, not anywhere near that age and I don’t have a concern for myself,” says Smith.

And while Coleman and Smith aren’t worried, there are a lot of people out there who are worried. The State Department of Health wants those travelers to keep the warnings in mind. Their team is urging any Hoosiers with travel plans to avoid mosquito bites at all costs.

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