If you are pregnant or think you may be, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just issued a travel alert warning pregnant women to avoid 13 countries in the Americas currently experiencing outbreak of a mosquito-born virus, Zika, that is in linked to an epidemic of birth defects in Brazil.
In the past few months in Brazil, there has been a report of over 3,500 cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect, compared to the normal 100-200 cases revealed in that massive South American country each year. Some of the babies have died.
For that reason, the CDC issued a travel alert Friday evening, warning people about the risk and suggesting that pregnant women, in particular, avoid Brazil and twelve other nations in the Americas that have had high cases, according to the Pan American Health Organization: Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela
The CDC said women who cannot avoid traveling should consult their doctors and take steps to avoid mosquito bites, such as wearing long sleeves and pants. Women thinking of becoming pregnant should also consult their doctors before traveling to outbreak zones.
For the US, only the property of Puerto Rico has had a reported case, its first of Zika in December. The case was diagnosed in someone who had not traveled outside of Puerto Rico, suggesting that Zika is spreading there.
The symptoms of the virus are mild but the link to birth -defect makes it more serious.
Brazil also has reported dozens of cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare immune system disorder that can cause temporary paralysis, that appear related to Zika virus.
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