Zika alert issued for pregnant women
Fearing an outbreak, India is issuing a travel alert asking pregnant women to avoid travel to the 24 countries and territories where the Zika virus is suspected to cause microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.
Each year, 26 million babies are born in India, which puts several thousands of them at risk from getting infected and developing abnormalities in the womb.
Unlike the influenza viruses such as H1N1, Zika infection does not spread directly from people to people. Transmission occurs only when an aedes egypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever, bites an infected person and spreads the infection to other people it feeds on. Isolating infected travelers with symptoms makes it possible to break the chain of infection from spreading across continents if infected people are stopped at the borders and treated in isolation.
Beginning next week, all international airports in India will have signs asking passengers coming from south and central Americas and the Caribbean to report symptoms of the virus.