CDC issues Zika alert for India travel, says disease “endemic”

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Malaria, Natural killer cells, parasite,
A mosquito feeding on human finger

Zika cases were reported from Rajasthan some time back

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US have issued an advisory forbidding pregnant women to travel to India as Zika is “endemic” in the country. More than 50 cases of Zika were reported from Rajasthan in October and November.

The advisory issued on December 13 says:

• Pregnant women should NOT travel to areas with risk of Zika. This is because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.

• All travelers to areas with risk of Zika should (1) prevent mosquito bites and (2) use condoms or not have sex to protect against Zika during travel. They should continue to take these precautions after their trip to stop the spread of Zika to others back home. See below for more information.

Zika spreads through the bite of Aedes aegypti mosquito – the same vector that spreads dengue and chikungunya

The advisory has taken the government of India by surprise as the Zika situation has been controlled in Rajasthan. There are no restrictions on domestic travel to the state which just elected a new government.

Zika can spread through mosquito bites and sex. A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects, including microcephalus where babies borne to a Zika-infected mother have congenital brain deficiencies.

The advisory also says that couples who are considering pregnancy should wait two months at least before conception if only the woman travelled and for three months if the man travelled to a Zika infected area. Men are advised to wait longer than women because Zika can stay in semen longer than in other body fluids and can be transmitted to partners during that time.

Zika spreads through the bite of Aedes aegypti mosquito – the same vector that spreads dengue and chikungunya.

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