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New Guidelines Issued As The Number Of Zika-Infected Pregnant Women Increases

Update Date: Jan 22, 2016 08:56 AM EST

As the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus sweeps through a number of countries in Caribbean and Latin America, US health officials fear a similar outbreak on American soil. So far, five people in the US have been reportedly known to have contracted the disease after arriving back from health-risk countries where the number of recorded infections is particularly high.

In response to a surge of Zika cases abroad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released interim guidelines for pregnant women.

The said guidelines recommend the caring procedures for pregnant women with potential exposure to the virus linked to neurological birth defects. The recommendations are intended to handle cases of pregnant women who have recently traveled to Zika-hit areas.

The rolling out of interim guidelines subsequently followed the recent decision of CDC to issue a travel alert advising pregnant women to avoid, delay, or postpone any travel plans to countries where Zika infections are widespread.

According to Fox News, women coming back from countries and territories covered under the CDC-issued travel advisory who manifested Zika-associated symptoms should be given the recommended tests under the new guidelines.

Recently, health officials in Hawaii confirmed the first ever US case of baby born with microcephaly linked to Zika virus infection. The mother reportedly contracted the virus and fell ill while staying in Brazil last year.

So far, no viable treatment or vaccine is currently available for infected patients. Health officials hoped that the new recommendations would prevent future outbreaks.

"I think this is likely to be increasing awareness on part of both the public [and] for women who are pregnant," remarked Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center as quoted by ABC News.

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