RPT-Zika pushes 38 pct of U.S. businesses surveyed to let workers defer trips

viernes 12 de febrero de 2016 08:00 GYT

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By Jeffrey Dastin

Feb 12 (Reuters) - Some 38 percent of U.S. multinationals, universities and non-profits surveyed by an arm of the State Department are allowing female employees to defer travel or leave countries where the Zika virus has been reported.

A fifth of the 321 respondents said they were giving male employees similar options, a sign of how employers' travel policies are diverging as they react to the mosquito-borne virus and uncertainty about the way it is transmitted.

Scientists are investigating a potential link between Zika infections of pregnant women and more than 4,000 suspected cases in Brazil of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.

The State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), which has a membership of more than 3,500 U.S. companies and institutions that do business abroad, surveyed its members and reported the results on Feb. 5.

Boeing Co, Microsoft Corp, Walt Disney Co and others assist OSAC, according to its website.

The largest share of the survey's respondents, none of whom were identified, were only recommending ways employees can avoid mosquito bites or inform themselves via the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

Multinational companies contacted separately by Reuters showed a similar split over how to respond to the virus's rapid spread in Latin America and the Caribbean.   Continuación...