The Latest Zika Developments Out of the Caribbean

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a Zika virus travel notice for the island of Saba.

Local mosquito transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) has been reported in Saba. Local mosquito transmission means that mosquitoes in the area are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people, according to the CDC. 

Because Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, the CDC recommends that travelers to Saba protect themselves from mosquito bites. According to the CDC, a pregnant woman can pass the Zika virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. The CDC is advising pregnant women not to travel to Saba. If you must travel, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip, according to the CDC. 

If you have a partner who lives in or has traveled to Saba, either use condoms or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy, according to the report.

As far as women who are trying to become pregnant, the CDC advises, “Before you or your partner travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.”

According to the CDC, many people infected with Zika virus do not get sick. Among those who do develop symptoms, sickness is usually mild, with symptoms that last for several days to a week. Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months, is very likely triggered by Zika in a small proportion of infections, much as it is after a variety of other infections. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent damage.

Meanwhile, the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian is reporting that there are now more than 200 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Trinidad and Tobago. Of this number, 60 have been diagnosed in women who are pregnant, according to the report.

According to the CDC, "A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects."

According to Kaiser Health News, the CDC does not break out the cases it tracks by country of origin — only by the infected person’s state of residency. It said in June that 48 percent of the travel-associated cases for all of 2015 and through May of this year originated in the Caribbean, 26 percent in Central America and 23 percent in South America. The cases numbered 591 at that time, according to Kaiser Health News.

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