Updated 07:38 PM EDT, Thu, Oct 21, 2021

Pregnant Women Cautioned Not to Travel to Latin America as the Zika Virus' Reach Expands, Warns the CDC

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning to travellers who plan on visiting the Latin American region, particularly to pregnant women, in an effort to prevent them from contacting the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The warning from the United States health agency pointed out outbreaks of the virus in areas within Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and the Americas, where the Zika-carrying species of mosquito, known as the Aedes, are found.

In a conference call with reporters on Friday, the CDC vector-borne infectious diseases director Lyle Petersen emphasized the need to warn travellers immediately, since the virus has been spreading very rapidly, according to Yahoo News

Furthermore, the CDC warning also highlighted the effects of the disease on pregnant women, and cautioned them not to travel or to at least take necessary precautions, should they need to travel to the abovementioned areas.

"Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do 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," CDC explained.

According to past reports, the Zika virus has been linked to severe birth defects in babies whose mothers were observed to have symptoms similar to that of the disease in Brazil, which is under the level two travel alert. In fact, in Brazil, over 3,500 cases of microcephaly -- a condition where a fetus' brain is abnormally small -- was reported in women during a three-month period.

Because Zika has been linked to these unusual statistics, the CDC recommends special precaution for pregnant women until health experts uncover whether or not the virus really is to blame for the birth defects.

Other countries and territories under the same alert level include El Salvador, Colombia, French Guiana, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, Martinique, Panama, Paraguay, Mexico, Suriname, Venezuela and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where the first confirmed case of Zika was reported in December 2015.

Symptoms of Zika are similar to that of dengue and chikungunya, which includes rash, joint pain, fever, and conjunctivitis. The symptoms typically last between a few days to a week.

While only one out of five people actually get ill when contacting it, many are still worried about the effects of the virus, particularly because experts have yet to establish a treatment or vaccine for the Zika virus.

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