Zika virus – TAA is prepared
TAA’s Medical department has been closely monitoring the Zika virus and the effect it might have on our air ambulance missions. Taking appropriate steps will minimize any risk associated with repatriating patients to and from Zika-affected regions.
Air ambulance impact
It is important to note that a patient is unlikely to require repatriation via air ambulance on the sole grounds that they have been infected with the Zika virus, as the clinical symptoms are similar to a flu-like infection. The Zika virus is also self-limiting in nature, meaning that the condition will resolve itself in time. Finally, the virus is transmitted by the Aedes species of mosquito and not through the typical exposure a doctor, nurse or pilot may have to an infected patient during the course of a mission.
Eva Wurz, Medical Director: “Before every mission is confirmed, TAA’s assessment doctor discusses the patient’s condition with local treating doctors. If the patient has already been diagnosed with the Zika virus, we will be made aware at that stage. Nevertheless, there is always a possibility that a patient may have contracted the virus if they are located in a Zika-affected region, regardless of diagnosis, and we must prepare on that basis.”
TAA has developed special Tropics Kits together with guidelines for missions to the tropics. The kit consists of an insect net, as well as insect repellant for both clothing and skin. Furthermore, TAA provide it’s MED-Cews with vaccination recommendations before flying air ambulance missions to tropical regions.
In terms of the risk of mosquito ingress into the aircraft, we will not amend our medical procedures in terms of loading the patient into the aircraft, which focus on ensuring the safety, comfort and the provision of medical care to the patient at all times. Furthermore, the mosquito which transmits the Zika virus is typically found in warm, moist climates. If a mosquito carrying the Zika virus was therefore to find its way into our aircraft, it would likely not survive the conditions during the flight, nor would it survive in a northern European climate.