U.S. health officials on Tuesday issued interim guidelines for health care professionals in the United States caring for infants born to mothers who traveled or lived in an area with Zika virus transmission during pregnancy.
The guidelines call for pediatricians to work closely with obstetricians caring for pregnant women exposed to the Zika virus during pregnancy, monitoring fetal ultrasounds and testing infants with signs of a birth defect called microcephaly marked by small head size.
The guidelines come in the wake of a spike in cases of infants born with microcephaly linked to Zika infections in Brazil.
The virus is already present in 21 of the 55 countries and territories across the Americas, the WHO said in a statement Sunday.
But it stressed that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries Zika and also dengue and chikungunya viruses, is already present in all countries in the Americas besides Canada and Chile.
(Photo: Getty Images)
WHO pointed out that since people in the region had not been exposed to Zika before it emerged in Brazil last May they lacked immunity, allowing the virus to spread quickly.
The UN health agency said it therefore “anticipates that Zika virus will continue to spread and will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.”
Additional reporting by AFP.
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