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Zika Virus Prompts Travel Warning For Pregnant Women

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A travel warning from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may have some Minnesotans rethinking their winter getaway.

The CDC has issued an advisory for 14 countries in Central and South America.

A mosquito borne illness called Zika virus is becoming more prevalent and may be linked to birth defects.

It's recommended that pregnant women postpone travel to these areas which include Mexico and the Caribbean.

This warning comes during months where travelers are looking for a warm weather escape.

Every day, Doug Moorhouse helps vacationers calling into Carrousel Travel looking for warmer climates.

"They're just now finally realizing, I need to get out of town, because it's terribly cold," said Moorhouse, the director of marketing and business development at Carrousel. "They're going to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America."

Some of the most popular tropical destinations are included in a travel alert issued by CDC.

"They're concerned enough that they've put out a travel warning for pregnant women," said Dr. Stacene Maroushek, a pediatric physician at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Health officials are worried about a mosquito borne illness called the Zika virus. The disease can show up as a fever, headache or rash, but for pregnant women the risk could be much greater.

"In Brazil, they've been seeing some infants born to mother's that are infected, having abnormalities specially their brains are smaller than would be expected," Maroushek said.

He says while there's no direct link between Zika and the birth defects, there's enough correlation to cause concern.

"While they are sorting it out, they're trying to protect women for non-essential travel that they should avoid," Maroushek said.

There's no treatment for Zika virus, the only protection is prevention.

Maroushek recommends travelers use repellant with DEET, stay out of wooded areas, stay in air-conditioned rooms, and use mosquito netting while sleeping.

"You want to keep away from mosquitos," Maroushek said.

There is no vaccine for Zika virus. Most people who get sick show no symptoms.

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