Israel’s Health Ministry issues travel advisory for southern Florida over Zika

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Ministry of Health has issued an advisory for pregnant women and women planning to get pregnant on travel to southern Florida, where several cases of the Zika virus have been reported.

The Health Ministry issued the warning on Wednesday, citing reports in recent days by the U.S. Center for Disease Control that people in two counties in southern Florida had been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes.

There is no vaccine to counteract Zika, which causes no symptoms in about 80 per cent of people. However, Zika can cause babies to be born with microcephaly, where the infant’s skull and brain are unusually small.

The advisory recommended measures to prevent infection, including wearing long sleeves and long pants and using mosquito netting at night. Women are advised to avoid getting pregnant for 8 weeks after leaving the area.

The Zika outbreak began in early 2015 in Brazil, and has since spread to areas of South and North America. The virus is transmitted mainly by mosquitoes, but can also be transmitted sexually. Several athletes have pulled out of the Rio Olympics, scheduled to start on Friday, over fears of the virus.

Travel warnings have been issued by several other countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines and the European Union.

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