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City Manager's Office
City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Matthai Chako, (510) 981-7008

PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD DELAY TRAVEL TO ZIKA-AFFECTED AREAS

Berkeley, California (Friday, December 16, 2016) - As the holidays approach, pregnant women and those considering pregnancy should heed travel advisories if going abroad, where the risk of Zika in many countries still poses a significant risk to their fetuses.

At least 32 infants with birth defects have been born in the continental U.S. to women with Zika, a virus that has been overwhelmingly tied to travel to countries where Zika is being transmitted by mosquitoes. In addition, another 5 women with Zika had fetuses with birth defects that resulted in miscarriages, stillbirths or did not survive. 

These cases emphasize the most severe risks of Zika infection, which will result in mild, if any, symptoms for the vast majority of people. There is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika virus.

While women who are pregnant or considering it should avoid travel to Zika-affected areas, some may not be able to do so. They and others should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites and Zika infection.

Use travel advisories to guide which countries you travel to or, in the United States, Brownsville, Texas and South Florida. Those who cannot avoid travel should take precautions, such as approved mosquito repellents, screens, mosquito nets, and clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.

There is evidence Zika can be sexually transmitted from men to women, posing a risk to a developing fetus. Men and women who have recently traveled to Zika-affected regions should  properly use condoms, barrier methods or not have sex. If a partner is pregnant, the risk of sexual contact is greater, leading health officials to more strongly urge protection or avoiding sex.

 "Zika virus has serious consequences for unborn infants and can be spread to a fetus by mosquitoes or by a woman's sexual partners," said Dr. Janet Berreman, Berkeley's Health Officer. "Not all pregnancies are planned, and everyone should take precautions."

 Zika has been transmitted abroad and South Florida by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which are not native to California.  Although these mosquitoes have been detected in the Bay Area in the past, none have been found this year thus the risk for local transmission is extremely low.

Zika transmission is ongoing in at least 59 countries and territories, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read the CDC's travel information page, which includes instructions on how to sign up for text alerts based on the destination country.Preventing mosquito bites abroad is the best way to avoid becoming infected. Visitors to these regions should:

  • Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para‐menthane‐diol for long lasting protection. If using both sunscreen and insect repellent, the sunscreen should be applied first and then the repellent.
  • Wear long‐sleeved shirts and long pants as much as possible. Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If there are mosquitoes indoors, sleep under a mosquito net.

If you are pregnant and were potentially exposed to Zika (either through travel to an area with Zika or through unprotected sex with someone who traveled to an area with Zika), talk to your healthcare provider regardless of whether or not you have Zika symptoms.

If you have returned from an area with Zika and have fever with joint pain or rash within the two weeks following your return, please contact your health care provider and say where you have traveled, and use mosquito repellent for three weeks following your return.

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