CDC Issues Zika-related Travel Warning

Health officials warn pregnant women against visiting places hardest hit by the virus.

Jan 18, 2016
Tracy Vence

Aedes aegypti, a Zika virus vectorWIKIMEDIA, MUHAMMAD MAHDI KARIM

Pregnant women should for now avoid traveling to Latin American regions experiencing the most Zika virus infections, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised Friday (January 15).

“Out of an abundance of caution,” the CDC issued a level-two alert, following reports from Brazil of microcephaly and other birth defects in babies of mothers who were infected with the virus while pregnant. Scientists have not yet established causative links between Zika virus infection and these conditions. “More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy,” the CDC noted in its statement.

“We believe this is a fairly serious problem,” Lyle Petersen, CDC’s vector-borne diseases director, told reporters (via The New York Times). “This virus is spreading throughout the Americas. We didn’t feel we could wait.”

It’s not clear how long this travel advisory will remain in effect. “This is a dynamic situation,” said Petersen. “We’re going to wait and see how this all plays out. Viruses can spread in a population for some periods of time.”