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The CDC has specifically cautioned pregnant women not to travel to those areas as the Zika virus has been linked to a serious birth defects.
The travel alert applies to the following countries: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes species mosquitoes, which also responsible for the spread dengue and chikungunya viruses common to these regions as well as Texas, Florida and elsewhere in the United States.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. There is no preventive vaccine or treatment, according to the CDC.
CDC officials said the risk to pregnant women was greatest in the first trimester of pregnancy, and continued into the second trimester. There have been reports of miscarriage and fetal death due to microcephaly.
The CDC has confirmed 26 cases of the disease among returning U.S. travelers since it was first reported in 2007, and is still receiving specimens for testing from travelers who recently became ill.
Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, and have been reported in some countries in the Americas.