NEW YORK (AP) — Pregnant girls ought to keep away from touring to Latin America and Caribbean nations which have outbreaks of a tropical sickness linked to delivery defects, well being officers mentioned Friday.
The sickness is brought on by the Zika virus which is unfold by mosquito bites. It causes solely a light sickness in most individuals. Nevertheless it’s been spreading world wide, and there’s mounting proof linking it to a horrible delivery defect, particularly in Brazil.
Late Friday, U.S. well being officers mentioned pregnant girls ought to think about suspending journeys to 14 locations — Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.
Additionally they suggested girls who’re making an attempt to get pregnant or pondering of getting pregnant to speak to their physician earlier than touring to these areas, and to take additional precautions to keep away from mosquito bites.
WHAT IS ZIKA?
Zika (ZEE’-ka) is the title of a virus found in a monkey within the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947. It’s native to tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. However infections have exploded lately in Latin America and the Caribbean. It’s unfold by bites from the identical form of mosquitoes that may unfold different tropical illnesses, like chikungunya and dengue fever.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Specialists suppose that solely about 1 in 5 people who find themselves contaminated with the Zika virus develop any signs. For people who do, Zika sickness often includes fever, rash, joint ache, and pink eyes — which often final not more than every week. There isn’t a drugs or vaccine for it. Hospitalizations are uncommon, and deaths from Zika haven’t been reported.
WHY IS IT A CONCERN NOW?
Two causes. First, there’s been rising proof linking Zika an infection in pregnant girls to a uncommon situation known as microcephaly, through which the pinnacle is smaller than regular and the mind has not developed correctly. U.S. well being officers are heading to Brazil, the place there’s been a current spike within the delivery defect, to additional examine the precise danger to pregnant girls. Greater than 3,500 instances have been reported in Brazil since October.
Second, the menace appears to be shifting nearer. Infections are occurring in our southern neighbor, Mexico, and the form of mosquitoes that may carry the virus are discovered alongside the southern United States, too. Specialists suppose it’s doubtless the pests might find yourself spreading the virus right here, although in all probability on a smaller scale than what’s been seen within the tropics.
HAVE THERE BEEN CASES IN THE US?
No less than 26 People have been recognized with Zika since 2007, all of them vacationers who’re believed to have caught it abroad. As well as, an individual in Puerto Rico who had not traveled was recognized with the sickness final month.
WHAT’S THE ADVICE?
Final month, the Facilities for Illness Management and Safety suggested U.S. vacationers to take defend themselves in opposition to mosquito bites in the event that they go to locations in Latin America or the Caribbean the place Zika has been spreading. The recommendation contains sporting lengthy sleeves and lengthy pants and utilizing insect repellent.
On Friday, the CDC got here out with an alert asking pregnant girls — at any stage of being pregnant — to postpone journey to 14 locations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In Brazil, a lot of the moms who had infants with the situation — known as microcephaly — had been apparently contaminated in the course of the first trimester, however there’s some proof the delivery defect can happen later within the being pregnant, mentioned the CDC’s Dr. Cynthia Moore.
One other CDC official, Dr. Lyle Petersen, mentioned the virus appears to stay within the blood solely a couple of week or two.
Why hasn’t a hyperlink between Zika and the delivery defect been famous earlier? Earlier outbreaks had been a lot smaller, and the issue might have occurred much less typically — and so was more durable to acknowledge, he mentioned.
There’s one other journey alert for pregnant girls already in place, discouraging journey to areas the place malaria is spreading.
AP Medical Author Lauran Neergaard in Washington contributed to this report.