Columbia, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Thailand and Mexico are only a handful of countries that have been included in a recent report by the CDC as zones with evidence of Zika virus transmission.
Philippines, Gabon, Nigeria and Venezuela are also on the list.
Zika virus, an illness transmitted to people through mosquito bites, has recently been linked to a congenital condition that causes newborns to have unusually small heads. Microcephaly, the name of the defect, causes smaller than normal cerebrums in babies and improperly developed brains.
Symptoms of the virus include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes.
Scientists first started exploring the connection between Zika virus and birth defects when a significant uptick in mosquito-borne illness and microcephaly was discovered in Brazil.
Even still, the CDC has acknowledged that "additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship."At this point, they're advising pregnant women to "consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing." All travelers to countries where evidence of the virus has been found are advised to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites such as wearing long sleeves and using bug repellent and mosquito nets.
According to the Hawaii State Department of Health, the Zika virus has been linked to one American case of the birth defect. Most cases of Zika have only been reported in travelers returning from abroad.
Countries pregnant women should avoid
Here are the countries that women who are pregnant in any trimester, women who are trying to become pregnant or women who are thinking about becoming pregnant should avoid until further notice:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Sierra Leone
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- Puerto Rico
- Cook Islands
- Easter Island
- Federated States of Micronesia
- French Polynesia
- New Caledonia
- Solomon Islands