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CDC issues travel warning for pregnant women because of Zika virus

Published: Jan. 19, 2016 at 8:42 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 15, 2016 at 9:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There's a new warning for pregnant mothers who want to travel to certain countries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an advisory, asking pregnant women to avoid travel to Mexico and 13 other countries and territories in Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

They are areas where people are getting the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The virus has stayed under the radar because symptoms are usually mild, but now it's possibly linked to a serious birth defect called microcephaly.

Mosquitoes carry Zika and can infect the mother.

Babies born with the condition can have brains that are not fully developed and a very small head.

There are developmental and intellectual issues and physical issues, some life-threatening.

There has been a spike in Zika cases in Brazil and a spike in the microcephaly rate there.

Scientists are not sure what's going on, but the CDC is advising pregnant women to delay their trips to those 14 areas at least until after the baby is born.

"It's asking, if you're pregnant, not to travel into these areas just because of the risk. And then afterward, it seems that it should be fine, because other than this adverse effect in pregnant women, there does not seem to be ... it usually sticks with the usual what we think of for Zika which is mild symptoms," said University of Arizona College of Public Health epidemiologist Dr. Heidi Brown.

"I think we're still trying to figure out what's going on with Zika and pregnant women - whether or not it's a certain time period of when they're exposed - whether it's the whole duration of the pregnancy," she added.

Zika is not in the United States, according to the CDC.

A baby was born with the birth defect in Hawaii, but the mother had lived in Brazil.

The CDC website said, "The Zika virus transmission is ongoing: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico."

Click here for the CDC travel advisory: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/s0315-zika-virus-travel.html

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