Should Pregnant Women Travel to Countries with Zika Virus? — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 15, 2016

Should Pregnant Women Travel to Countries with Zika Virus?

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by André Sofair, MD, MPH, and William E. Chavey, MD, MS

CDC officials are considering whether to warn pregnant women against traveling to countries with Zika virus, the New York Times reports. The mosquito-borne virus, which has been making its way through Latin America since May 2015, may be related to a sharp increase in microcephaly in newborns in Brazil.

The CDC has found Zika in tissue samples from four Brazilian infants, two with microcephaly who died soon after birth and two who died before birth, according to the Times. Brazilian scientists had previously detected the virus in samples from three malformed fetuses. The country has been experiencing a microcephaly epidemic over the past year — at the same time Zika took hold there.

In the New England Journal of Medicine, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Anthony Fauci and David Morens call for "intensive investigative research" to "confirm or dispel a causal link" between Zika and microcephaly. They note that there is no commercial test for the virus, although gene-detection assays can identify it. Cases are usually mild, and treatment relies on bed rest and supportive care.

To date, just one Zika case has been reported recently in the U.S. — in a Texas patient who had traveled to Latin America. The NIAID is working on a vaccine, Fauci told the Times.

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