US issues travel alert over Zika virus in Latin America, Caribbean

Zika Virus Spreads, Officials Consider Travel Warning for Pregnant Women

U.S. health officials on Friday issued a travel warning for 14 countries and territories in the Caribbean and Latin America where infection with Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, is a risk.

SEE ALSO: Zika virus case confirmed in Texas; person traveled to Latin America

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in particular cautioned pregnant women not to travel to those areas as Zika has been linked to a serious birth defects.

The travel alert applies to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

RELATED: Other mosquito-borne viruses:

14 PHOTOS
New mosquito-borne virus spreads in Latin America
See Gallery
US issues travel alert over Zika virus in Latin America, Caribbean
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos A researcher examines transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos kept in cages to collect their eggs, at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos Transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos are kept in cages for reserachers to collect their eggs, at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos A researcher examines transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos kept in cages to collect their eggs, at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos Transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos are kept in cages for reserachers to collect their eggs, at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos A researcher collects eggs of transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos, at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos A researcher collects eggs of transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos, at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos Larvae of transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos are pictured through a microscope viewfinder at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos Larvae of transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos are pictured through a microscope viewfinder at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos Transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos are seen in a container at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos Transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos are seen in containers at a laboratory of biotech company Oxitec, in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos The production supervisor of biotech company Oxitec, Sofia Bastos Pinto, looks at transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos kept in a container at the lab in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos The production supervisor of biotech company Oxitec, Sofia Bastos Pinto, looks at transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos through a microscope at the lab in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Natalia Ramos The production supervisor of biotech company Oxitec, Sofia Bastos Pinto, looks at larvae of transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitos kept in trays at the lab in Campinas, 100 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 21, 2014. Oxitec produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. The factory developed a technology where eggs of Aedes aegypti receive microinjection of DNA with genes that produce a protein which prevents their offsprings from reaching adulthood and thus reducing the total population of transmitters of dengue. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

It also includes advice that women who are trying to become pregnant should consult with their doctor before traveling to those areas.

Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes species mosquitoes, which also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses and are common in Texas, Florida and elsewhere in the United States.

Zika is usually a mild illness with fever, rash and joint pain. There is no preventive vaccine or treatment, according to the CDC.

Dr. Lyle Peterson, director of CDC's division of vector-borne diseases, said the agency has confirmed that Zika virus was present in samples provided by Brazilian health authorities from two pregnancies that ended in miscarriage and from two infants with diagnosed microcephaly who died shortly after birth. Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby's head is abnormally small and brain development is incomplete.

Genetic analysis showed that the virus in the four cases was the same as the Zika virus strain currently circulating in Brazil.

CDC officials said the biggest risk was in the first trimester of pregnancy, and continued into the second trimester.

Petersen, speaking on a conference call, said the CDC had 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.

In December, Puerto Rico confirmed the first locally acquired case of Zika virus in a person who had not traveled outside the island.

CDC said all travelers should take protective measures against mosquitoes, such as netting and repellent, if they travel to areas where the infection is present.

Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, and have been reported in some countries in the Americas.

(Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Sandra Maler)

More on AOL.com:
Dozens feared exposed as Sierra Leone confirms new Ebola case
Texas lawyer sues Cruz to challenge eligibility
Series of bomb threats targets Boston-area schools - police

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.