mosquito-borne virus that can cause birth defects has just made the jump to Puerto Rico, causing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a travel warning — one that expectant mothers should pay extra attention to.
The Zika virus outbreak began in Brazil this past May, followed by outbreaks in several Central and South American countries, according to the CDC warning. A “locally transmitted” case was seen in Puerto Rico this December, which means, per the CDC, that Puerto Rico’s own mosquitos have been infected with the virus and can spread it to humans.
So the CDC advises tourists headed to Zika-detected areas in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, or Mexico to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
No vaccine or medicine exists to prevent Zika virus infection, the CDC says, and advises seeing a doctor or nurse if you “develop a fever with a rash, joint pain, or red eyes.”
Zika virus was linked to microcephaly by Brazil’s Ministry of Health, per the CDC warning. According to CNN, microcephaly is “a neurological disorder that can result in incomplete brain development in newborns.” The news network said babies with the disorder are “born with abnormally small heads that cause often serious developmental issues and sometimes early death.”
With Brazil’s 2015 Zika breakout came more than 2,400 suspected microcephaly cases in 20 states, versus just 147 cases in 2014, CNN said. Doctors found that most mothers of affected infants had Zika-like symptoms early in the pregnancy, the news network added.
After the outbreak was announced in Puerto Rico, the commonwealth’s Congressional Representative Pedro Pierluisi said in a statement, “There is no reason for alarm, and the public should continue to take commonsense steps to avoid mosquito bites, like using repellent and wearing long pants and shirts