Zika Virus Travel Alerts for Pregnant Women
Several months ago, a mosquito-borne virus know since the 1940’s began to wreak havoc in Brazil and quickly spread to more than 21 countries. People become infected when they are stung by a mosquito with the virus. Although the Ziki virus doesn’t spread from person to person, authorities are reporting that wide spread outbreaks could occur as people travel to affected areas.
Risk to Pregnant Women
There is no drug or vaccine to prevent the virus, and blood tests are the only way to confirm a diagnosis since no diagnostic tests are available at this time. Pregnant woman are at risk because there has been an increase cases of microcephaly, a serious birth defect in which babies are born with smaller than normal heads, and brains that are not completely developed. In Brazil alone, over 3500 cases have been reported. In the past they had less than 200 cases each year. Scientists urge caution until more is known about how this virus affects unborn babies.
Will it Spread to the US
According to the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Houston’s Baylor College, changing climate patterns and the El Ninto season make it ripe for the Zika virus to travel north. The areas of the US that are particularly vulnerable are coastal communities, where mosquitos tend to breed.
Travel Alerts have been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioning pregnant women not to travel to the 23 countries where the virus has been found.
On January 26, the CDC broadened their alert to include the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. Countries to Avoid: Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname, Samoa, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.
If you are pregnant, and recently visited one of the countries above, the CDC recommends you contact your doctor for screening.
WILL YOU CURTAIL TRAVEL IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR THINKING OF BECOMING PREGNANT?