December 14, 2016 / 10:28 PM / 7 months ago

CDC issues travel advisory for Brownsville, Texas, over Zika

CHICAGO, Dec 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday has issued a travel advisory warning pregnant women to consider postponing travel to Brownsville, Texas, because of the risk of contracting Zika.

The advisory, issued through CDC's Health Alert Network, follows reports of infections in five people living in the Brownsville area who have contracted Zika through local mosquitoes.

Texas is one of several U.S. states where Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry Zika, are present. Texas is the second state within the continental United States to report local transmission of the virus that has been linked to birth defects.

The CDC said there is currently no evidence of widespread transmission of Zika, but temperatures are still warm enough in the Brownsville area - located near the Mexico border - to support mosquito-borne transmission of the virus, which has been shown to cause birth defects.

The travel advisory says that pregnant women in the area are at some risk of Zika, but the extent of risk is unknown. The advisory applies to pregnant women, women of reproductive age and their sexual partners who live in or have traveled to Brownsville on or after Oct. 29, 2016.

The CDC urges pregnant women who have visited Brownsville and their sexual partners to be tested for Zika.

A new study published by the CDC has shown that some 6 percent of fetuses or infants whose mothers were infected with Zika during pregnancy developed birth defects, including microcephaly, in which the baby has an undersized head and brain.

The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last year in Brazil, which has since confirmed more than 2,200 cases of the birth defect.

In adults, Zika infections have also been linked to a rare neurological syndrome known as Guillain-Barre, as well as other neurological disorders. (Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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