HOTEL AND RESORT LIABILITY FOR ZIKA VIRUS
Many global branded hotels and resorts within the lodging and hospitality industry have facilities in locations where Zika virus has been reported. These often luxurious hotels and resorts rely heavily on marketing that is designed to entice guests to enjoy the outdoors with complete peace of mind, comfort and safety. Picture a tropical paradise.
The Zika Threat
Unfortunately, a global medical emergency looms over these picture perfect hotels and resorts. Zika virus is to blame. Zika virus has infected millions of persons in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Zika cases are now being reported throughout the United States, and with the advent of summer, experts are expecting that many Americans will be at risk for contracting Zika virus. The debacle of holding the Olympics in Brazil, ground zero for the Zika epidemic, will likely increase the odds for a significant spread of Zika to America. When a person or their child contracts Zika virus at a hotel or resort, our Zika virus injury lawyers can evaluate the potential case at no cost for the injured person or their family.
Transmission of Zika
Zika is known to be transmitted by the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. They bite indoors and outside during the day and at night. Other species of mosquitoes are suspected of having the capability of likewise spreading the virus. Besides mosquitoes, other types of blood seeking parasites such as bed bugs, ticks and lice have not been studied as routes of potential transmission, yet no research exists ruling out these parasites as additional avenues of risk.
Effects of Zika
The effects of Zika are insidious. Only about 20% of the population manifest any physical symptoms. Moreover, the symptoms are usually mild and include conjunctivitis, fever, rash and joint pain. Such symptoms often resolve within several days to a week. Rarely, Zika causes Guillan-Barre syndrome, a paralyzing condition that can disable a person for months. There may also be a delayed reaction of two days to a week after exposure to Zika. Thus many infected persons may not realize that they contracted Zika. However, as long as the virus lives within the host, that person is infectious and can transmit Zika through contact with blood, sexual contact and bodily fluids. Some researchers point to facts indicating that the potential for transmission via seminal fluid exists for up to six months.
Mothers to be and their unborn babies face the terrifying possibility that an infected mother may give birth to a baby with microcephaly. Zika attacks the developing brain. A baby with microcephaly has an abnormally small head and brain. The baby’s brain is ravaged by Zika in the womb. If the baby survives, there is no possibility for a normal life, as the virus destroys the baby’s physical and intellectual potential.
Diagnostic Testing for Zika
There are drawbacks to laboratory diagnostic tests that look for Zika virus in a patient’s blood. Getting results from a laboratory blood test can take weeks; and testing for antibodies can yield false positive results for similar mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and chikungunya. As a consequence, persons who travel to locales where Zika is present may be left in a dangerous state of limbo and uncertainty.
Until recently, only government labs had approved tests for Zika, and doctors had to go through state or local health departments to order a test. About one month ago, Quest Diagnostics received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration for the first commercial U.S. test to diagnose Zika. Test results reportedly are available within about five days from receipt of the blood specimen.
Duty to Protect Guests from Injury
The owners and operators of hotels and resorts have legal obligations to their guests. The law recognizes that the owner and/or operator of a hotel or resort owe a duty of reasonable care to keep guests safe from hazards that are not open and obvious. This includes a duty of constant vigilance as to risks that place guests in harm’s way. If the owner or operator is aware that there are Zika infected mosquitoes in and around the facility, there is a duty to warn its guests and, if necessary quarantine access to certain areas. Our Zika virus hotel injury lawyers can provide legal representation to hold hotels accountable for failing to take precautions against the Zika virus.
Under the circumstances, a prudent and ethical hotel/resort owner and operator must develop a risk assessment of their facilities to protect their guests from needlessly contracting a Zika infection. This should include surveillance and sample testing of mosquitoes. Failure to conduct an appropriate investigation may be grounds for a court to find willful ignorance by the owner/operator and global brand. Guests need to be informed of specific hot spots of Zika activity prior to being lured to such locations. Damages caused by a failure to use reasonable care can result in legal liability to the injured guests and other foreseeable victims.
Zika Virus Injury Lawyers
Whitney, LLP’s Zika virus injury lawyers are available for free consultations to discuss potential Zika virus claims. Our attorneys have experience with claims and cases involving the transmission of diseases through insects, and recovering compensation for those who have been injured. If you, a family member, or a loved one have contracted Zika virus, or have questions about Zika virus injury claims, our attorneys are available to discuss during a free consultation. Contact Us Now at 410 583 8000, or use our Quick Contact Form.