Zika danger: Pregnant women should refrain from avoidable trips to risk areas
Since Brazil was hit by a severe Zika epidemic, many pregnant women have preferred to avoid the South American country. However, there are regions in other parts of the world where the dangerous virus is spread. Health experts advise pregnant women and women who want to become pregnant not to travel to such risk areas.
Zika virus can cause skull deformities in babies
According to health experts, the Zika virus is not fatal, but it can cause cranial deformities in newborns. In so-called “microcephaly”, children are born with an unusually small head, which can lead to brain malformations. Since the virus is found in many regions of the world, pregnant women and women who want to have children should carefully consider which countries they can travel to.
Pregnant women should avoid traveling to high-risk areas
The World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the countries affected by the Zika virus into different categories, depending on the risk of a possible transmission.
The Federal Foreign Office (AA) has endorsed this assessment and recommends that “pregnant women and women who want to become pregnant refrain from avoidable travel” in regions of WHO category 1 or 2, “because there is a risk of early childhood malformations when women are infected is ".
Many travel and safety information for countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Maldives have been updated recently.
"The transmission risk can vary considerably both regionally and seasonally," the AA writes, for example, when referring to Thailand.
"In the case of unavoidable trips, care must be taken to consistently apply personal protective measures throughout the day to avoid mosquito bites," the office wrote in an older communication.
Not so many infections at the moment
But not all experts see the situation as dramatically. Professor Tomas Jelinek from the Center for Travel Medicine (CRM) does not generally advise pregnant women and women who want to have children from traveling to Category 1 and 2 areas.
As the expert said, according to a message from the news agency dpa, there are currently not many infections there. "But you have to point out Zika," said the doctor.
However, the same applies to malaria and dengue, which are also potentially dangerous for pregnant women. All of these diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes.
"Returning travelers from affected areas who experience symptoms typical of Zika in the following weeks should consult a doctor and point out the trip," wrote the CRM on its website.
Typical include rash, muscle, joint and headache, conjunctivitis and fever, with the symptoms usually occurring within three to twelve days after an infectious mosquito bite. (ad)