Planning a “babymoon” cruise to the Caribbean or a Mexican getaway? Take note of a CDC travel alert that is especially directed at pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant traveling to countries where Zika virus has become a threat: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly (a birth defect associated with an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development) and other problems in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. The agency says that more study is needed to learn about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy. Meanwhile, CDC recommends that pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant take these precautions:
- Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
- Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
Mosquito bite prevention strategies include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using insect repellants containing DEET (according to package directions), wearing repellant-treated clothing and using repellant-coated tents and staying in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Infection with the virus often causes no symptoms, and symptoms that do appear are usually mild. About one in five people infected with Zika virus will develop fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Other commonly reported symptoms include myalgia, headache, and pain behind the eyes. However, since the virus was first identified in Brazil in May 2015, Brazilian health officials have reported a large increase in the number of cases of microcephaly, and CDC scientists found evidence of Zika virus in the brains of two infants with microcephaly who died shortly after birth, and in cases of two pregnancies that ended in miscarriage.
Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing may change over time, CDC will update this travel notice as information becomes available. Check the CDC travel website for the most up-to-date recommendations.
For more information about Zika, visit the CDC Zika website.