CDC warns pregnant travelers of Zika virus; 2 IL women test posi - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

CDC warns pregnant travelers of Zika virus; 2 IL women test positive

Countries where Zika virus has been detected. (Source: CDC) Countries where Zika virus has been detected. (Source: CDC)
Microcephaly, a birth defect, can be contracted by the baby from the mother. (Source: CDC) Microcephaly, a birth defect, can be contracted by the baby from the mother. (Source: CDC)

(WTVM) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women and other travelers to take caution in traveling to certain countries for a virus spread by mosquitoes. 

The Zika virus is spread through the bites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and has warranted a CDC Health Advisory to at least 14 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico. The advisory was issued on Jan. 15. 

Now, two pregnant women in the continental U.S. have tested positive for Zika virus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday.

The IDPH says the mothers contracted it while traveling abroad and physicians are closely monitoring their pregnancies and overall health. 

According to the CDC, their Level 2-practice enhanced precautions travel alert has been issued for the following countries: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The virus has also been detected in Africa, Asia and the countries in the Pacific Ocean. 

Pregnant women can spread Zika virus to their children during birth.

In May 2015, a baby born in Hawaii was infected by Zika virus and had microcephaly, an unusually small or underdeveloped head of infants. The baby contracted the virus from his mother, who was in Brazil during her pregnancy, according to KHLN in Hawaii. 

The child born in Hawaii is the only reported case of Zika in the U.S. 

Brazil has had a major increase in cases related to Zika in the last year. In 2015, the South American county has 3,500 cases of microcephaly, and 46 babies died.

The CDC says, "locally-transmitted Zika virus has not been reported elsewhere in the United States, but cases of Zika have been reported in returning travelers."

There is currently no vaccine or preventative medicine for the Zika virus. Symptoms of Zika virus include:

  • About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
  • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.
  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
  • Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
  • Deaths are rare.

The CDC urges that travelers in this country to protect themselves from mosquito bites by: "[the] use of insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens."

For more information on Zika virus, visit the CDC's website.

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