A travel advisory has been issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning pregnant women from visiting an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission in northern Miami, Florida.
At least 14 people have been infected in the first locally transmitted Zika outbreak in the continental United States. Some countries, including the United Kingdom, have already issued a travel warning for their pregnant citizens about traveling to the affected area in Florida.
After ten new cases were reported today, in addition to the four cases reported last week, the CDC is now advising pregnant women to avoid traveling to the 1-square-mile area in northern Miami where the outbreak occurred. CDC Director Tom Frieden also advised women who were in that area within the last month to avoid trying to get pregnant to reduce the risk of having an infant that develops Zika-related microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head brain, leading to significant developmental problems.
"Women who were in this area and left this area recently should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to get pregnant," Frieden said during a news conference today.
While some have questioned why the CDC did not issue a travel advisory last week when the outbreak was first recorded, Frieden explained that the agency had not yet seen continued transmission of the virus.
"We don't expect widespread transmission in the continental U.S. If, however, we were to see continuing spread in this area or somewhere else, or explosive spread, then we would absolutely issue travel guidance," Frieden said in a call to reporters last week. "That's not the situation that we're in today, but we will reassess that every single day, and based on what we know now, we are not issuing travel guidance, but that could change depending on events."