The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new warnings recently aimed at both men and women for avoiding transmission of the Zika virus. [1]

On September 30 the CDC said, among other things, that pregnant women should consider postponing travel to 11 Southeast Asian countries where Zika is spreading, and shored up its warnings for men who are considering having children.

Warning for Women

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control

In an update, the agency wrote:

“CDC recommends pregnant women should consider postponing nonessential travel to Southeast Asia countries with reports of Zika virus infection from local transmission or related to travel to those countries, and those countries with adjacent borders where limited information is available to fully evaluate risk of Zika virus infection.”

The areas women are advised to avoid include Brunei; Myanmar; Cambodia; Indonesia; Laos; Malaysia; Maldives; the Philippines; Thailand; Timor-Leste (East Timor); and Vietnam.

Some of the people living in the affected areas may have developed an immunity to the Zika virus, but travelers may not be immune, the CDC explained.

Women who may have been exposed to Zika who do not live in areas of active transmission but are thinking of becoming pregnant should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to conceive. [2]

Furthermore, women with possible Zika exposure who do not plan on becoming pregnant in the near future are urged to minimize the risk of sexually transmitting the virus by asking their partner to use a condom, in addition to their chosen method of birth control, or abstain from sex completely.

Women who are planning on starting a family soon should avoid non-essential travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission.

Warning for Men

The CDC is urging men who may have the Zika virus but don’t have any symptoms to put off starting a family for a full 6 months, because men can sexually transmit the disease to their partners.

In August, health officials announced they had uncovered the first case of Zika being sexually transmitted by a man with no symptoms.

The updated guidance resulted from the discovery that Zika can remain in semen for much longer than expected.

Originally, the agency had advised these men to delay conception for 8 weeks.

Additionally, the amount of time that men should use a condom to protect against sexually transmitting Zika was also increased from 8 weeks to 6 months after the last possible exposure. The virus shocked health officials when it was realized that women, too, can transmit Zika sexually.

The CDC said:

“The updated recommendations incorporate what’s been learned since the previous guidance was released.

The new time period for couples to wait to attempt conception when the man has possible Zika exposure but no symptoms [is] expected to minimize the risk of sexual transmission around the time of conception and prevent possible early fetal exposure to the Zika virus.” [3]

The Zika virus has been implicated in a serious birth defect called microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with a smaller-than-normal brain and head.

Source: KTVA

The virus has spread through Latin America, especially Brazil, and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico. Mosquitoes have also spread the illness in the Pacific islands, such as Fiji.

Research published in July estimated that some 1.65 women in Latin America could become infected with the Zika virus while they are pregnant.

Sources:

[1] Fortune

[2] Science Daily

[3] NPR

U.S. Centers for Disease Control

KTVA


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About Julie Fidler:
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Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.