Staff members aboard Delta and United Airlines flights have been given the option to opt-out of flights to Latin American and the Caribbean.
Those areas have come under intense scrutiny following the spread of the Zika virus and its effects on unborn children.
United said Wednesday that it was giving pregnant flight attendants the option of withdrawing from assignments to countries affected by the mosquito-borne virus. The company’s decision arrives after reports that babies are being born with abnormally small heads.
“The safety of our employees is paramount and providing this option was the right thing to do under these circumstances,” said United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson.
Delta said it has been offering a similar opt-out program for two weeks to let flight attendants and pilots swap out of scheduled flights in any areas that have been flagged by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“A small number of crew members have swapped trips to date,” said Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant.
The Zika virus has been called a “public health emergency of international concerns” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
It’s believe that 4 million people could be infected with the Zika virus in the next year.
As Business Pundit previously reported, many airlines, included Delta and United, have allowed pregnant passengers to postpone or change their flight plans at no charge. In some cases pregnant women have been about to receive full refunds with no questions asked.
Concerns are growing about Zika in the U.S. after health officials announced a case of the virus involving a patient in Texas. It was reported that the patient had sex with an infected person who had recently returned from Venezuela.