Pregnant women warned not to travel to Zika-infected countries


The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has issued a travel alert for people travelling to Latin American and Caribbean countries where transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika Virus is ongoing given its rapid spread.
These countries include Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Fortunately, Guyana is not on the list of high-risk countries; however, only recently, health officials announced that the Virus was detected in the country in the Rose Hall district in Berbice and the Garden of Eden community on the East Bank of Demerara.
Meanwhile, the CDC alert follows reports in Brazil of birth defects in babies of mothers who were infected with the Zika Virus while pregnant.
Emerging evidence shows that the Zika Virus is linked to severe birth defects in infants.
In light of this, the CDC recommended special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant.
For starters, pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika 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.
Also, women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before travelling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
That aside, regular travellers are also urged to protect themselves from contracting the Virus by preventing mosquito bites. They are urged to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants; use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535; and stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms or under nets.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent, or medicine to treat, Zika. The CDC also warns that four in five people who acquire Zika may have no symptoms. Symptoms consist of mild fever; rash (of red spots and small bumps); headaches; joint pain; muscle pain, physical weakness, and non-purulent conjunctivitis, occurring about three to 12 days after the mosquito bite. Zika infection does not require hospitalisation.



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