Advertisement

Pregnant women told to avoid countries with Zika outbreaks

Dejailson Arruda holds his daughter Luiza at their house in Santa Cruz do Capibaribe, Pernambuco state, Brazil. Luiza was born in October with a rare condition, known as microcephaly. Luiza's mother Angelica Pereira was infected with the Zika virus after a mosquito bite. AP Photo/Felipe Dana

NEW YORK – U.S. health officials say pregnant women should avoid travelling to Latin American and Caribbean countries with outbreaks of a tropical illness linked to birth defects.

The illness is caused by the Zika (ZEE’-ka) virus. It is spread through mosquito bites and causes only a mild illness in most people. But there’s been mounting evidence linking the virus to a surge of a rare birth defect in Brazil.

READ MORE: What pregnant women need to know about Zika virus and travel

The virus is native to tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. But infections have exploded recently in Latin America and the Caribbean.

On Friday, U.S. health officials said pregnant women should consider postponing trips to 14 places: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

Advertisement