|Credit PAHO - Epi Week 3|
Twelve days ago the CDC issued a Level-II travel advisory for 14 countries and territories over the Zika Virus threat, asking pregnant women to considered postponing travel to regions that were affected. Seven days later they added 8 additional countries and/or territories.
Last night two more travel destinations were added to the list (United States Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic) both having recently reported confirmed local transmission of the virus.
It should be noted that while evidence of a tentative link between the introduction of Zika to the Americas and the sharp rise in microcephalic births in Brazil continues to grow, a causal link has yet to be established. Doing so could take months.
Given the potentially dire outcome of maternal infection, the CDC is acting out of an abundance of caution and is recommending that pregnant women avoid travel to these affected regions until more is known.
This rapid expansion of the virus is expected to continue, and there are likely countries in the Americas where the virus is already circulating but it has yet to be confirmed. Four months ago, only two countries in the Americas (Brazil & Columbia) were reporting cases.
On Monday in PAHO Statement On Zika Transmission & Prevention, it was postulated that other than in Canada and perhaps Chile, the virus would likely find suitable mosquito vectors (at least part of the year) across much of the Western Hemisphere.
The following CDC statement was released last night.
CDC adds 2 destinations to interim travel guidance related to Zika virusCDC is working with other public health officials to monitor for ongoing Zika virus transmission. Today, CDC added the following destinations to the Zika virus travel alerts: United States Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic. Previously, CDC issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory; Barbados; Bolivia; Brazil; Cape Verde; Colombia; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Martinique; Mexico; Panama; Paraguay; Saint Martin; Samoa; Suriname; and Venezuela. Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to continue to change over time.
Media StatementFor Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 Contact: Media Relations, (404) 639-3286
As more information becomes available, CDC travel alerts will be updated. Travelers to areas where cases of Zika virus infection have been recently confirmed are at risk of being infected with the Zika virus. Mosquitoes that spread Zika are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. There is no vaccine or medicine available for Zika virus. The best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites.
Some travelers to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission will become infected while traveling but will not become sick until they return home. Some people who are infected do not have any symptoms. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Other commonly reported symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and case fatality is low. Travelers to these areas should monitor for symptoms or illness upon return. If they become ill, they should tell their healthcare professional where they have traveled and when.
Until more is known, CDC continues to recommend that pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant take the following precautions:
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) has been reported in patients with probable Zika virus infection in French Polynesia and Brazil. Research efforts will also examine the link between Zika and GBS.
- Pregnant women should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare professional first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
- Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare professional before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.