Public Health Agency of Canada issues travel notice for Zika virus
A mosquito acquires a blood meal from a human at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta in 2006. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention / James Gathany)
Published Monday, January 18, 2016 11:58AM EST
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a travel notice for the Zika virus, which has been linked to a surge in miscarriages and birth defects in Brazil.
In a notice posted to its website on Friday, the agency says pregnant women and women considering becoming pregnant should discuss travel plans with their doctors to assess their risk.
It also recommends these women "consider postponing travel to areas where the Zika virus is circulating in the Americas.
"If travel cannot be postponed then strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be followed to protect themselves against bites."
The Zika virus is spread by mosquitos, and while it has been native to parts of Africa and Asia for years, it was recently introduced into the Americas.
While the virus is not normally considered worrisome, researchers have noticed a still-unproven link between Zika and a sudden rise in babies born in Brazil with microcephaly. The conditions of microcephaly include small heads and underdeveloped brains.
In November 2015, a Brazilian investigation found an average 20-fold increase in the incidence of microcephaly among newborns born in areas where Zika virus was known to be in circulation, the public health agency said.
Last week, the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus was found in the placentas of two women who recently miscarried, and in the brains of two newborns who were born with unusually small heads, and who died shortly after birth.
On Friday, the CDC issued a travel guidance related to the Zika virus for 14 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean, including Brazil, Colombia, Mexica and Panama.
The agency said pregnant women should consider postponing travel to the areas where virus transmission is ongoing.
"Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first, and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip," the CDC said.
Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their doctor before travelling to these areas, and should take steps to prevent mosquito bites, the agency said.