INTERNATIONAL: U.S. health officials consider travel warning As Zika Virus spreads

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INTERNATIONAL: U.S. health officials consider travel warning As Zika Virus spreads
Infant with microcephaly

160114-zika-brazil-microcephaly-mn-1215_408557b99ee1619e962b167517a4cf07.nbcnews-fp-760-400NBC NEWS – U.S. health officials are considering a travel warning about Zika virus, the once obscure virus rapidly spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean that experts fear may cause birth defects.

It’s not clear what the officials will tell people just yet, because so little is known about the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. But evidence is growing that it may cause a catastrophic birth defect called microcephaly.

What is clear is that it’s likely to spread much more widely. It’s also clear that it will take weeks, if not months, to get all the answers. In the meantime, there’s no vaccine against Zika, a viral cousin of dengue fever, and no treatment for it.

“We are in the process of developing a travel warning not only for pregnant women, but for everybody,” said Dr. Lyle Petersen, who heads the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s division on diseases carried by mosquitoes and other insects and animals.

Microcephaly — an abnormally small head and brain — can kill babies, cause miscarriages or cause severe and untreatable handicaps.

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