Ask pregnant women about trips to Zika outbreak areas — CDC

Doctors should ask all pregnant women whether they have traveled recently to areas affected by the Zika virus, federal health officials said Tuesday.

Three cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Florida, and two pregnant women tested positive in IL.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel alert for people going to countries where the virus is found.

"Zika is spread by infected mosquitoes", said ABC Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser. It is believed that Zika virus caused the brain damage of more than 3,500 babies born in these areas.

Zika is transmitted by mosquitoes, and some experts say the virus could spread from Latin American countries to warm, wet states along the Gulf, like Florida, Texas, and Louisiana.

But a recent and particularly widespread outbreak of Zika in Brazil drew global attention when rates of a rare birth defect skyrocketed starting a year ago. The virus has been found in the bodies of babies who miscarried and in the amniotic fluid of women whose fetuses had microcephaly. Symptoms can last several days to a one-week period. This illness is typically a mild and severe disease requiring hospitalization. Officials there are urging women - who can wait - to hold off on becoming pregnant until the crisis is under control.

The CDC's warning to pregnant women is clear: If you have the symptoms, see a doctor and get tested for an infection.

Two pregnant women living in IL have tested positive for Zika virus.

In Hawai'i, physicians are required to report all suspected cases of Zika virus and more than 75 other reportable diseases in the state.

According to the CDC, a possible link between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects is being investigated in Brazil.

When traveling to countries where Zika virus has been reported, all travelers should take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as using use insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and trousers, and staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.

"As the principal source for the fastest growing vector-borne infection in the world in Dengue Fever, as well as the increasingly challenging Zika virus, controlling the Aedes aegypti population provides the best defense against these serious diseases for which there are no cures", Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry said.

Last Friday, the CDC issued a travel warning for 14 countries and territories exposed to the Zika virus, which has been linked to a torrent of birth defects in Brazil.

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