Zika Virus: These Are The Destinations To Avoid If You Are Pregnant 6 years ago

Zika Virus: These Are The Destinations To Avoid If You Are Pregnant

Pregnant globe trotters have been warned to avoid thirteen Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued an interim travel warning after the listed destinations were deemed high risk for Zika Virus, a mosquito-borne virus that can severely affect the development of an unborn baby.

There have already been 12 reported cases of Zika Virus in the USA, including one in Texas. In all cases, the patient has recently returned to the USA from abroad.

In Brazil however, officials are investigating upwards of 3,500 cases of microcephaly in newborns, compared to the normal average of 150. In fact, because there is no vaccine, women there are being advised to postpone pregnancy wherever possible.

What is it?

Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. In humans, it causes a mild illness similar to Dengue fever. Since the 1950s, Zika virus has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. In 2014 however, the virus spread eastward across the Pacific to French Polynesia, before reaching South America, Central America, and the Caribbean last year. It is now considered pandemic.



Why is it dangerous?

New data suggest that newborns of mothers who had Zika virus infection during pregnancy are at an increased risk for microcephaly, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development. The United States documented its first case of mother to fetus transmission on January 15 this year.

What are the symptoms?

From a fever to red eyes, joint pain and a rash, the symptoms are relatively mild and only occur in one in every five cases. However, they are extremely dangerous to women in their first trimester of pregnancy as the virus appears to cross the placenta and damage the brain of the foetus. If they survive, babies with microcephaly often have impaired cognitive abilities, neurological defects and seizures.
The countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission are:

  • AMERICAS: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Venezuela
  • ASIA: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippine, Thailand, Vietnam
  • AFRICA: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia
  • OCEANIA/PACIFIC ISLAND: Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

If you must travel to one of the countries listed, the latest advice is to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites. These include sleeping under mosquito nets, investing in the best available repellent and wearing long sleeves, trousers and hats.