Zika Virus and Dengue Fever 2024 Business Aviation Guide

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In recent years, the focus of global health concerns shifted significantly towards COVID-19, causing diseases like Zika and Dengue fever to temporarily fall off the radar for many, including international business aviation operators.

However, as the world has adjusted to navigating the complexities of living with COVID-19, previously overshadowed health risks are re-emerging as regulatory concerns for the business aviation sector.

Among these, the regulations surrounding the control of Zika virus and Dengue fever transmissions are again coming to the forefront, especially for those traveling to and from areas where these diseases are prevalent.

Here’s what you need to know:


Zika & Dengue Update from the World Health Organization

According to the latest information from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 89 countries and territories around the world with confirmed cases of Zika virus transmitted locally by mosquitoes.

Since the start of 2023, these areas have not only seen continuous transmission of Zika but also an unexpected and significant rise in dengue fever cases. This surge has led to nearly a record-breaking five million dengue cases and over 5,000 deaths related to dengue across more than 80 countries and territories. These cases span five WHO regions: Africa, the Americas, Southeast Asia, the Western Pacific, and the Eastern Mediterranean. This situation underscores the global impact and challenges presented by these mosquito-borne diseases.


Impact on Business Aviation Operations in 2024

At the height of the Zika outbreak in 2015-16, many countries put specific screening requirements in place, ranging from observing crew and passengers on arrival to full-blown residual disinsection of general aviation (GA) aircraft. Some nations, like Costa Rica and China, required health declarations upon international arrival.

So far, only Italy has formally announced Zika and Dengue requirements.


Italy Disinsection Requirements

Universal Aviation Italy reports that the Italian Health Authorities need either a certificate showing your aircraft has been treated for pests or a declaration that it hasn’t flown to any countries affected by Zika or Aedes Agypti mosquitoes in the last 28 days.

If your aircraft hasn’t been to a country with Zika or Aedes Agypti mosquito concerns in the past 28 days, you don’t have to treat it for pests. However, you must provide a document in both Italian and English on your company’s letterhead. This document should state that your aircraft hasn’t visited any affected countries recently. It needs to be signed by a manager and list all the airports the aircraft has been to in the last 28 days, ensuring none are in Zika’s or Aedes Agypti’s affected areas.

You must email this letter to the Health Authority office at your Italian destination airport (you can find the email address in the official Italian AIP) at least 12 hours before you land in Italy.

Example letter.


Disinsection Process

Suppose appropriate disinsection services are available at the Italian airport you land at. In that case, the disinsection spraying process will take 15-20 minutes after crew and passengers have exited the aircraft, the cabin will be closed for one hour, and an additional hour is needed to air out the aircraft. This works out to about two-and-a-half hours, and crew must remain at the airport until the procedure is completed and a receipt is issued.

You can read ICAO’s guidance on disinsection here.


Operator non-compliance

We’ve not received any notices of fines or penalties for non-compliance with new Zika virus Dengue disinsection mandates in Italy. We know an aircraft that landed in Italy without the required certificate. The Airport Authority required the aircraft to be sprayed immediately. Future enforcement is unknown, but we strongly recommend all operators to comply regardless of what any individual handler may recommend.


Information on approved insecticides

More information on the Zika virus and Dengue risks can be found on the World Health Organization site. The current list of countries with active Zika virus transmission can be found on the CDC website. Approved insecticides are not readily available in the U.S. due to Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. Most international locations requiring disinsection measures to control the Zika virus make these insecticides available to operators upon arrival.


Risk mitigation advice from the World Health Organization (WHO):

Travelers should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites during the day and night. This includes using insect repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants, and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

This can be done by using insect repellent, wearing clothes (preferably light-colored) that cover as much of the body as possible, using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors, and windows, and sleeping under mosquito nets. It is also important to empty, clean, or cover containers that can hold even small amounts of water, such as buckets, flower pots, or tires, so that places, where mosquitoes can breed are removed.”


Conclusion

Before traveling internationally, GA operators should verify the latest Zika virus and Dengue Fever risk areas and related disinsection requirements with either your 3rd-party provider or ground handler. Read the CDC website for additional Zika and Dengue information and the latest updates on locations where this virus is being actively transmitted. Currently, Italy is the only country that has implemented requirements for disinsection, but should Zika and Dengue outbreaks gain momentum around the globe, more countries will likely follow suit.


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