SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The Zika virus has prompted doctors across the country to warn against travel to parts of the Caribbean and South America for pregnant women, but there are new warnings about travel within the U.S. as conditions during the summer months could be ripe for an outbreak in some states.
The mosquitoes are already here. Travelers are coming back from countries that have the disease, and that’s why the National Center for Atmospheric Research recently published their projection that the conditions are ripe for a Zika virus outbreak in some southern states—some time over the peak summer months.
“Unfortunately, it is probably likely that we will, as the summer comes, see many local outbreaks particularly in the South Eastern part, Gulf coast states, Texas, Florida et cetera,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Given the prevalence of birth defects in babies born from mothers with the Zika virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending pregnant women, and those planning to have babies restrict travel to some 38 countries and territories where the Zika virus has been found. But, given the new projections, should doctors go a step further and warn women away from traveling to Miami or Houston?
“I have patients asking me ‘what about this wedding for my second cousin in Texas?’ and my question to them is, ‘is this travel really necessary?’” Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf of the University of Washington said.
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Dr. Adams Waldorf said there may be some lag time between Zika virus test results and the CDC’s recommendations, so she believes she has an obligation to tell her patients to reconsider travel to certain southern cities.
“It will be a while before we actually know what’s happening in these areas and we need to just be aware of what’s coming and think about unnecessary travel and how to protect our patients,” she said.