CDC Warning Travelers to Avoid Southeast Asia Due to Zika Virus
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As a result of the first confirmed case of birth defects linked to the Zika virus in Thailand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning for pregnant women to avoid travel to 11 Southeast Asian countries which have reported cases of the virus.
According to NBCNews.com, the CDC has issued warnings for Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor) and Vietnam.
On Friday, health officials in Thailand confirmed they had discovered two cases of babies being born with a birth defect common with the Zika virus, microcephaly. Babies born with this disease have underdeveloped heads that can cause major issues throughout the child’s life.
As a result of the findings in Southeast Asia, the CDC is recommending that women who are pregnant, considering becoming pregnant or their male partners should avoid travel to areas where confirmed cases of the Zika virus have been reported.
In Southeast Asia, the Zika virus is being handled differently than in the Americas, as doctors are unsure if there have been a string of new outbreaks or if there have been more confirmed cases due to health officials testing for the illness.
“Zika virus has been present in areas of Southeast Asia for many years, and several countries have reported occasional cases or small outbreaks. Recent variations in the number of cases reported in the area have been observed,” the CDC said in a statement. “Zika virus is considered endemic in some of these countries, and many people who live there are likely immune. But U.S. travelers to areas where Zika is endemic may not be immune to the virus and infections have occurred in travelers to Southeast Asia.”
The issues with the Zika virus extend far past Thailand and other Asian countries, as there are now thousands of confirmed cases of travelers bringing the virus back to the United States from outside the country.
In Florida alone, there have been 134 home-grown cases of the virus. As a result, Congress has finally passed a bill that will provide $1.1 billion in long-delayed funding to the fight against Zika.
The funding comes just in time, as a recent report suggests the tourism industry in Florida will likely take a hit this fall and winter due to concerns surrounding outbreaks of the Zika virus in parts of the state.
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