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Pregnant Women Who Traveled To Caribbean Or Latin America Urged To Get Tested For Zika Virus


SAN JUAN – If you’re pregnant and you’ve traveled to Latin America or the Caribbean, health professionals stongly suggest that you get tested for the Zika virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also asking pregnant women to avoid traveling to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where the Zika virus has been confirmed.

These are the affected areas: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

Doctors say 80 percent of people who get Zika virus never show signs, as the symptoms are mild. They include fever, rash, red eyes and joint pain.

“We are referring those who do have symptoms and meet the criteria to be tested,” said Dallin Peterson, Zoonitic Disease Epidemiologist for the State of Utah.

The infection is skyrocketing in Brazil, where cases of babies born with brain damage has grown from a few hundred in 2014 to more than 3,500 in 2015.

“In the fetus that are still in the womb, if they do an ultrasound, they could have microcephaly,” Peterson said.

Zika has made its way to the United States. A woman who lived in Brazil gave birth to a baby in Hawaii who had the Zika virus. Other cases have surfaced in Texas, Florida and Illinois – all are travel related. So far, there are no cases in Utah, but local health leaders are taking a lot of calls.

“If they do any foreign travel, they’re coming back and they are concerned because there are outbreaks in certain places of the world,” Peterson said.

There’s no vaccine or cure for the virus. The key is to not get exposed.

“If they are to use mosquito repellent with Deet or sleep under a net, or soak your clothes in permethrin just to try to limit that interaction in between the mosquito and human,” Peterson said.

Click here to read the entire CDC travel warning.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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