Pregnant women may soon face a travel advisory to Brazil, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Zika virus is fast spreading across Brazil, Latin America and the Caribbean, carried across the areas by mosquitos and prompting a possible travel warning for pregnant women. Zika is linked to causing brain damage in newborns. This would be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out an advisory specific to pregnant women.
A final decision on whether to issue the warning is expected soon, but officials have to weigh carefully the health risks versus the monetary risks for tourism.
“This is going to decimate Caribbean tourism,” Dr. Peter J. Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told the New York Times. “But we can’t wait to act until nine months from now, when congenital defects turn up in the labor and delivery suites.”
Pregnant women are equally caught in a conundrum, wondering whether to delay trips because of something that only might be an issue.
“Part of me feels you have to live your life, so let’s go,” Ashley D’Amato Staller, a pregnant woman, told the New York Times. “I could skip going and still get hit by a car or catch West Nile, or someone could sneeze on me. On the other hand, this is my baby, and nothing’s more important.”
The virus presents itself as a mild fever and rash, but women in the first trimester who get it are more likely to give birth to babies with microcephaly, a condition causing small head sizes and damaged brains.
[Photo: U.S. CDC]