CDC expands tropical virus alert due to spreading zika virus

The director of IDPH, Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., said that people in the states should not worry about getting infected within the country because the virus can only be transmitted via a mosquito bite.

The CDC says people who do develop symptoms should tell their doctors where and when they travelled.

Vice-minister of public health Eduardo Espinoza urged women to put off pregnancy until 2018 to avoid the risk of passing on the Zika virus to their children.

The Center for Disease Control says that the virus, which is carried by mosquitoes, has been linked to birth defects and that cases are on the rise. According to official figures, almost 100 pregnant women contracted the virus but so far none have given birth to a baby with birth defects.

Because no treatment or vaccine for Zika virus exists, the best way to avoid being infected is to simply not be bitten by mosquitoes carrying it. Symptoms of the virus range from a fever and rash to joint and muscle pain, and red eyes and headache.

The list of countries includes Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

Although there is ongoing research, significant evidence in the South American country of Brazil has linked Zika infections to the increased number of microcephaly cases. "These imported cases may result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the continental United States, meaning these imported cases may result in human-to-mosquito-to-human spread of the virus".

A warning recently went out for pregnant women to stay away from certain countries because of a virus outbreak.

World Health Organization spokesman Christian Lindmeier said on Friday there were 3,893 suspected microcephaly cases in Brazil, which included 49 deaths.

"Because some women may have traveled to affected areas prior to this advisory, obstetrician-gynecologists and other health care providers should ask all pregnant women about recent travel, and women who have traveled to these regions should be evaluated for Zika virus infection", DeFrancesco advised.

"The link between the Zika and the microcephaly... is still being investigated", Lindmeier said, but acknowledged that Zika "seems the strongest candidate".

He said the government decided to make the announcement because 5,397 cases of the Zika virus had been detected in El Salvador in 2015 and the first few days of this year. It can cause newborns to have smaller heads. Mosquitoes transmit the virus, but as of yet there is no indication that USA mosquitoes are spreading it.

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