Doctors urge pregnant women to follow travel restrictions because of Zika virus

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Dr. Derek tenHoopen of West Ridge OB-Gyn says, right now, doctors are the bearers of bad news for pregnant patients wanting to travel to the Caribbean and other locations hit by the Zika virus. tenHoopen said he had to tell one woman she couldn't go to her sister's wedding in the Dominican Republic, because it's just to risky to travel there.

This comes as a Monroe County resident tested positive for the virus.

The risks are much higher for pregnant women, because doctors say the virus can cause serious birth defects that can affect brain development and cause impairment, as well as fetal death.

The CDC has recommended that women who are expecting or planning to have children put off travel to the affected areas for at least two years.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, muscle aches, red bumpy rash and conjunctivitis or pink eye. Only one out of five people affected will have symptoms. The virus can be detected by a blood test.

But since there is no vaccine to prevent it or medicine to treat it, doctors say the best advice is avoid travel to areas where it is most prevalent.

The World Health Organization said the virus is now "spreading explosively" and that the mosquitoes spreading the illness can be found from Argentina to the Southern United States.

Doctors say the virus is not spread from person-to-person or by casual contact. It can only be transmitted by mosquitoes. Countries reporting cases include: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Saint Martin.

Dr. Nayef El-Daher, Chief of Infectious Disease at Unity Hospital, said for most of us, this would be a mild illness. He said only one in five people show symptoms. But for pregnant women, the risks are much higher and cannot be ignored.

Dr. El-Daher said there is no vaccine to prevent the virus or any medicines to treat it, so avoiding areas where it is prevalent is the best advice, especially for women pregnant or planning to get pregnant in the near future.

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