The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late Friday issued a Level 2 travel alert for countries and territories where Zika virus has been found, including Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

A Level 2 alert is intended to urge travelers to take enhanced precautions. This particular alert follows reports coming out of Brazil of incomplete brain development (microcephaly) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant, according to the CDC. “However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy,” the agency stated.

Until more is known, the CDC recommends that pregnant women at any stage of their pregnancy consider postponing travel to areas where there has been Zika virus transmission.

Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas, women trying to become pregnant, and women who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip, the CDC advised.

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika and there is no known medicine to treat it. Four in five people who acquire Zika may have no symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week, with hospitalization being uncommon. 

Zika was reported for the first time in Brazil in May 2015. According to Brazilian health authorities, more than 3,500 microcephaly cases were reported in Brazil between October 2015 and January 2016. Some of the affected infants have had a severe type of microcephaly and some died. 

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