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Zika virus report from Bora Bora

Posted by Stuart Rose on

I have been in Bora Bora (French Polynesia) for the past week, and concerned about the presence of Zika virus as well as dengue fever.

To date, the largest ZIKa virus outbreak occurred in French Polynesia during 2013–2014. The outbreak spread to other Pacific Islands and then to Brazil in 2015.

These viruses are transmitted by daytime-biting mosquitoes. There are no vaccines. Zika virus (but not dengue) causes mild disease unless it infects a fetus, in which case microcephaly and mental retardation can result.

Here's my quick assessment: I think there is very little risk of being bitten and getting either disease if you are staying at a resort in an over-water bungalow or on the beach because the constant wind basically eliminates daytime mosquito bites. The only mosquitoes I saw (maybe three) were in the evening, so I would recommend treating your clothing with 3M Permethrin and applying a repellent to your skin (30% DEET or picaridin) when the sun goes down—but I would also recommend daytime application of repellents If traveling away from the beach where the wind protection may be much less.

Note: If traveling to Bora Bora, bring a European 2-prong adapter plug, common in French Polynesia. U.S. style outlets may be found only variably.

Also consider the Worldwide Adapter Plug.


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  • If you take strict precautions against daytime-biting mosquitoes you should be OK. Despite this, you may not eliminate the risk 100%, so you must decide if you want to assume even a very small risk. I cannot quantitate this for you. Factors include your hotel room, location, daily activities, your length of stay, etc.

    Stuart Rose, MD on
  • Hi there, I am meant to be travelling to Bora Bora with my partner next month and am pregnant so slightly concerned. I have looked up all travel advice on-line and can not see any cases apart from 2013. It is not on the list of places effected therefore would not receive any money back via insurance. Also my health advisor stated as far as she could see it is safe to travel to. Do you have any advice or do you think I would be at risk travelling to Bora Bora?

    claire on

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