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Risk of Zika Infection Appears to Be Low for Pregnant Women

U.S. study found only one of 185 who traveled to active areas tested positive, and baby wasn't infected

microscopic view of zika virus

WEDNESDAY, May 10, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. women traveling to areas where the Zika virus is circulating might be less likely to be infected than expected, but risk remains, according to research published in the June issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

During the first eight months of 2016, the University of California, Los Angeles, maternity clinic in this study evaluated 185 pregnant women with potential exposure to Zika. About 17 percent of the women had been exposed to Zika during travel to the active transmission area that occurred in Miami-Dade County in Florida during the summer of 2016, the researchers said.

Only one out of 185 pregnant women who visited an active Zika area (Honduras) between January and August 2016 was diagnosed with infection. Doctors closely monitored the patient and her pregnancy; both the child and her amniotic fluid tested negative for Zika. A healthy delivery followed, and at 3 months old the baby shows no sign of Zika-related birth defects. The other women had been potentially exposed during travel to Mexico (44 percent), the Caribbean (16 percent), South America (13 percent), Central America (9 percent), and Asia (1 percent). Two-thirds of the women (67 percent) reported mosquito bites, but only one in 10 said they developed any symptoms that might suggest Zika infection.

About half the women (51 percent) traveled to a Zika risk area after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its initial travel advisory in February 2016, the researchers said. The advisory warned pregnant Americans to avoid traveling to countries with active Zika infection, and to undergo testing for potential birth defects regardless of whether they exhibited any symptoms.

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