The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Friday added eight countries to its travel advisories for Zika virus.
The advisories, which recommend that all travelers avoid mosquitoes and that pregnant travelers consider postponing, now include Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Guyana, Cape Verde and Samoa.
The CDC had already issued travel advisories for Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
While only one in five people infected by Zika virus show symptoms, and those symptoms are typically mild, there is increasing concern that the disease can cause microcephaly — a condition which causes underdeveloped brains in newborns. For that reason, the CDC as well as several foreign authorities have warned of the risks to pregnant women.
See the extreme measures being taken in an attempt to control the Zika virus:
The travel advisories could spell terrible news for the tourism economies of these countries, in particular Brazil, which is hoping for a surge in tourism for the 2016 Olympics to help with a deep recession.
The New York Times also reported Friday the virus could be the cause of a rare syndrome surging in Brazil, which leaves patients almost "completely paralyzed" for weeks.
The CDC reports Guillain-Barré syndrome has been seen in patients with probable Zika virus infections in both Brazil and French Polynesia. Research is underway to determine if there is a link. It is not clear from the CDC's guidance if there is potential danger only for pregnant women or also women who may become pregnant in the future. It's also unclear whether the risk for pregnant women is higher in certain trimesters. The agency recommends women who are trying to become pregnant speak with their doctor before traveling to the included countries.
The CDC recommendations for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are:
Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare professional first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare professional before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
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