End Times News Update
Sign: Pestilence (emerging virus news)
Scripture: Luke 21:11
News Source: Associated Press

Jan 19, 6:13 PM EST

CDC: Ask pregnant women about trips to Zika outbreak areas

AP Medical Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials issued new guidance Tuesday for
doctors whose pregnant patients may have traveled to regions with a
tropical illness linked to birth defects.

Doctors should ask pregnant women about their travel and certain
symptoms, and – if warranted – test them for an infection with the
Zika (ZEE’-ka) virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
said Tuesday.

If there are signs of an infection or there are other reasons to
believe the fetus is affected, ultrasounds should be considered to
monitor the baby’s development, the CDC advised.

The virus is spread through mosquito bites, and there have been
outbreaks in parts of the Caribbean and Latin America. There is no
medicine or vaccine for it.

Usually the infection only causes a mild illness, if at all. Most
infected people don’t develop symptoms. In those that do, the worst of
it involves fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes – which usually
lasts no more than a week.

But there’s mounting evidence linking the infection to a birth defect
called microcephaly, in which the head is smaller than normal and the
brain may not have developed properly.

Usually rare, more than 3,500 babies with the condition have been
reported in Brazil since October. The connection to Zika is still
being investigated, and health officials note there are many causes of
the condition, including genetics, and exposure during pregnancy to
alcohol and certain germs and toxic chemicals.

In the Brazil cases, most of the mothers apparently were infected
during the first trimester, but there is some evidence the birth
defect can occur later in pregnancy, CDC officials have said.

Last week, CDC officials said pregnant women should consider
postponing trips to 14 destinations – Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador,
French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama,
Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

They also advised women who are trying to get pregnant or thinking of
getting pregnant to talk to their doctor before traveling to those
areas, and to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Health officials say no infections have occurred in the United States,
except for one in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. The kind of
mosquitoes that can carry the virus are found in the southwestern
United States. The mosquito also spreads other viruses that cause
dengue fever and chikungunya.

In the last year, there have been a dozen confirmed cases among U.S.
travelers, including two pregnant women in Illinois and one in Hawaii,
whose baby was born with the birth defect. She was likely infected
while living in Brazil, Hawaii health officials said.

The CDC’s priority was to alert pregnant women to the situation, even
though there are a lot of lingering questions, said Dr. Tom Frieden,
the agency’s director.

“There’s a lot we don’t know,” including how much Zika is in the
different areas, or how likely it is that Zika infection in a pregnant
woman will lead to the birth defect, he added. Perhaps there’s another
factor which also plays a role in whether a child develops the birth
defect, he said Tuesday.