C.D.C. May Warn Pregnant Women Against Travel to Countries With Zika Virus
U.S. health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes spread the Zika virus, which has been linked to microcephaly in newborns. This would mark the first time that the C.D.C. has warned pregnant women to avoid traveling to certain regions because of an outbreak.
There is currently no vaccine against Zika virus, but the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been working to develop one for the past month.
Zika virus was first detected in South America in May 2015, and it has spread rapidly to 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Brazil has been the hardest hit. Epidemiologists estimate that more than 1.5 million Brazilians have been infected with Zika virus. In October Zika was linked to a sharp increase in cases of microcephaly in newborns — Brazilian officials are currently investigating 3,500 new cases of the condition.
"Some American virologists are already warning women who are pregnant or trying to have children to avoid such areas. 'If my daughter was planning to get pregnant, I’d advise her not to go the Caribbean,' said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
"'This is going to decimate Caribbean tourism,' he added. 'But we can’t wait to act until nine months from now, when congenital defects turn up in the labor and delivery suites.'"