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Pregnant women urged to postpone Florida travel over Zika fears

Part of US mainland added to list of countries where Zika infection risk is present

Pregnant women are being advised to postpone non-essential trips to Florida because of the Zika virus.

Public Health England updated its travel advice after four cases transmitted by mosquitoes on the US mainland appeared in the state.

Despite the latest developments, the PHE advice to NHS staff working in primary care remains the same as that issued in June.

Precautionary measures

This includes:

  •  Women should be told to avoid becoming pregnant while in an area with active Zika transmission and for 28 days after return.
  • If a pregnant woman cannot postpone travel, she should be told about the risks.
  •  Pregnant women who have recently travelled to affected countries, now including Florida, should report this to their primary care clinicians, obstetricians or midwives.
  •  Pregnant women who develop Zika virus symptoms should be tested for the infection when symptoms are present and referred for an ultrasound.
  •  All people travelling to affected areas should take measures to avoid mosquito bites.
  • The advice also explains what patients should be told about taking precautions when having sex. The risk of transmission is ‘thought to be low’, the guidance says, but male-to-female sexual transmission has been reported.
  • Men who have travelled to affected areas should use condoms for 28 days, even if they have not had Zika symptoms
  • Male travellers diagnosed with Zika or who are exhibiting its symptoms should continue to use condoms for six months.
  • Male travellers whose partners are pregnant should continue to use condoms throughout the pregnancy, regardless of whether they have developed symptoms of Zika.
Short-lived

The guidance adds that patients who have recovered from Zika require no further investigations and can be reassured that the infection is typically short-lived.

It also advises healthcare staff that people who have recently travelled to affected areas do not pose a risk as long as universal precautions are followed.

The Zika virus has been associated with the birth defect microcephaly, which results in children being born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.

The updated travel advice reads: ‘The risk in Florida is considered moderate based on the number and spread of cases.

‘At present, only a zone of about one square mile in Miami-Dade County is considered at risk of active transmission.’

 

National Travel Health Network and Centre Zika guidance

Nursing on the Zika front line

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