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Spread of Zika virus prompts travel alert for pregnant women

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Centers for Disease Control has issued a travel alert for pregnant women traveling to certain tropical or sub-tropical locations, because of an outbreak of the Zika virus.

This virus is spread by mosquitoes in tropical parts of the world. Currently, there is transmission in popular vacation hot spots like Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Most people who become infected with the virus will not develop any symptoms. However, there are concerns for pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant who are bitten; they could give birth to a baby with Microcephaly.

"Microcephaly is a birth defect that is characterized by abnormal brain developmnent in the fetus," explained Dr. Jennifer Brown, the State Public Health Veterinarian for the Indiana State Department of Health. "It's recognized by the abnormally small circumference of the fetus of the head in the infant."

If you must travel, health officials encourage you to do everything possible to avoid mosquito bites, which may be difficult for vacationers since the mosquitoes which carry this virus are most active during the daytime.

The travel advisory has been extended to include the following locations: Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Guyana; Cape Verde, off the coast of western Africa; and Samoa in the South Pacific.

The alert issued last week included Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

Learn more about the CDC travel advisory here.