In updated Zika travel recommendations issued March 10, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women not travel to any area where there is a risk for Zika virus infection.
This includes areas where the Zika virus has been newly introduced or reintroduced and local mosquito-borne transmission is ongoing, areas where the virus was present before 2015 (endemic) and there is no evidence transmission has stopped, and areas where the virus is likely to be circulating but has not been documented.
"CDC previously recommended that pregnant women not travel to areas with a Zika travel health notice" (epidemic areas where the virus has been newly introduced or reintroduced and mosquitoes in the area are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people) "and talk to their health care provider and consider postponing travel to other areas where Zika is a risk" (endemic areas where the virus was present before 2015 and there is no evidence transmission has stopped and areas where the virus is likely to be circulating but has not been documented), Captain Gary Brunette, MD, MS, CDC branch chief, Travelers' Health, explained in email to Medscape Medical News.
"Although the risk of acquiring Zika virus infection might differ depending on the level of transmission in a country, to avoid risk of adverse birth outcomes associated with Zika virus infection, we are now recommending that pregnant women not travel to any area with Zika risk," said Dr Brunette. "In the process of classifying countries to be consistent with WHO, we defined the scientific criteria required to be considered in the category of 'area with Zika risk,' and we are no longer using the terms 'endemic' and 'epidemic' to describe areas with Zika."
Country List Grows
The CDC has also added four countries to its growing list of travel advisory for the disease: Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Maldives, and Solomon Islands.
According to the CDC, local public health officials have reported that mosquitoes infected with Zika virus are spreading the virus to people.
In these additional countries, the warning is to avoid nonessential travel, practice enhanced precautions when traveling to these areas, and watch for symptoms suggestive of Zika infection after returning to the United States.
The Angola and Solomon Islands advisories note that mosquitoes that carry Zika usually do not live at elevations above 6500 feet (2000 meters) because of environmental conditions. Travelers whose itineraries are limited to areas above this elevation are at minimal risk of getting Zika from a mosquito.
In addition to strengthening the travel recommendations for pregnant women, the CDC has expanded the range of countries where pregnant women are advised not to travel, including much of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
These changes harmonize the CDC recommendations with the World Health Organization Zika virus interim country classification framework, which was recently developed in collaboration with CDC and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the CDC said.
The CDC has also published a new interactive World Map of Areas With Risk of Zika that provides location-specific Zika information and travel recommendations. The map allows the user to search for a place by name or zoom and click on the map to see CDC's travel recommendations for Zika in that country.
In addition, the CDC has published an interactive Know Your Zika Risk tool that provides tailored risk and prevention information.
More information about Zika virus is available on the CDC website.
Medscape Medical News © 2017
Cite this: CDC Updates Zika Travel Advice for Pregnant Women - Medscape - Mar 14, 2017.