Why Pregnant Women Should Consider Postponing Travel to Latin America and the Caribbean
If you or anyone you know are/is pregnant or trying to get pregnant, listen up: The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has a message for you if you’re thinking about traveling to the countries below, and it’s a fairly serious one. It concerns the rise of the Zika virus. In its words, the CDC has issued a “travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing:
Zika Travel Notices (As of February 5, 2016)
- Zika Virus in Cape Verde
- Zika Virus in the Caribbean
Currently includes: Barbados; Curaçao; Dominican Republic; Guadeloupe; Haiti; Jamaica; Martinique; the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory; Saint Martin; U.S. Virgin Islands
- Zika Virus in Central America
Currently includes: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
- Zika Virus in Mexico
- Zika Virus in the Pacific Islands
Currently includes: American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga
- Zika Virus in South America
Currently includes: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela
This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
Until more is known, and out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:
- Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
- Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Four in five people who acquire Zika infection may have no symptoms. Illness from Zika is usually mild and does not require hospitalization. Travelers are strongly urged to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant and nursing women and children older than 2 months when used according to the product label. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years of age.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
- Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.”
Check the CDC travel website for more, and check frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.
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