US issues travel warning for pregnant women

Updated 17 Jan 2016

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MIAMI: The United States warned pregnant women on Friday to avoid travel to 14 countries and territories in the Caribbean and Latin America due to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, linked to birth defects.

“The virus is spreading fairly rapidly through the Americas,” said Lyle Petersen, director of the division of vector-borne infectious diseases at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, in a conference call with reporters.

“We thought it was very important to warn people as soon as possible”.

The level two travel alert applies to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

“Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing,” said the CDC.

Zika virus can cause fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, with symptoms usually lasting under a week.

But in pregnant women, the virus can spread to the foetus and cause brain shrinkage or death.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2016