Pregnant? Avoid Traveling to These Zika Virus Affected Areas (Updated)


According to the Centers for Disease Control, 279 pregnant women in the United States have tested positive for Zika virus, as of May 2016. Specifically, 157 pregnant women are in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the other 122 are in territories, including Puerto Rico. With roughly half of those women showing actual Zika symptoms, consisting of rash and fever, the CDC explains that they are now including all pregnant women who have tested positive for the virus, (not just the women who show Zika-related symptoms, as they had previously done) in their tally. The outbreak began in Brazil, and the CDC has a list of countries that are reporting cases of Zika, so take note (and check the CDC website for travel updates, if you have a trip planned). Additionally, find out what the Zika virus is, how it’s spread, what you should do if you’re pregnant (or TTC) and have to travel to an affected area, and more.

If you’re pregnant or TTC, where should you avoid traveling right now?

Africa: Cape Verde

The Caribbean: Barbados, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, U.S. Virgin Islands

Central America: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama

The Pacific Islands: American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga

South America: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela

What is Zika virus, and how is it transmitted? 

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus related to the Dengue, Yellow Fever, West Nile, and Chikungunya family of viruses. Anyone can be bitten by the Aedes species mosquito, but pregnant women must be especially cautious because Zika virus can be transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy. Zika virus is generally not sexually transmitted, and is not known to be deadly. As of now, CDC officials say that there is no evidence that the US-based Zika cases were the result of mosquito bites. 

What are the symptoms of Zika virus? 

Symptoms include severe fever with maculopapular rash (flat, red rash covered with bumps), joint or muscle pain, headache, or pink eye. According to the CDC, symptoms can develop for up to a week after a mosquito bite. 

How does Zika virus affect unborn babies? 

The CDC has reported cases in which the virus has caused a severe birth defect called Microcephaly, a condition that leaves babies with abnormally small heads (and brains) compared to other similarly aged/sized babies. Other birth defects are unknown at this time.

What should you do if you’re pregnant and you must travel to an areas that’s affected by zika virus? 

The CDC has issued a travel notice recommending pregnant women postpone any travel to Zika affected areas (listed below). However, if travel is necessary, definitely talk to your healthcare provider and take all necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites (stay indoors when possible, always wear long sleeves and pants, use bug spray, and spray clothes with an antiparasitic repellent).The CDC is working with healthcare providers to make the public aware of the virus, as well as detect and report any new cases to prevent the disease from spreading further.

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