When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted its last Zika travel advisory for Miami-Dade county last week, residents and visitors to Miami’s popular South Beach neighborhood were relieved. Still, doctors say, pregnant women should continue to take extra precautions.
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There’s no doubt about it: Zika is on the retreat in the Americas.
In Brazil, cases are down by 95 percent from last year. Across the Caribbean, outbreaks have subsided. And in Florida, the virus seems to have gone into hiding.Health officials haven’t investigated a new Zika case for more than 45 days in Miami-Dade County.
Last week, the Centers Disease Control and Prevention lifted the last travel warning for southern Florida. The agency is no longer recommending pregnant women avoid the region.
“That’s really exciting news,” says Dr. Christine Curry, an OB-GYN at the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital. “Everybody has sort of exhaled.”
But the threat to pregnant women, whether residents or travelers, isn’t over — not in the least — Curry says, neither in Florida nor abroad.
So what should pregnant women and their families, or women who are trying to get pregnant, do? Let’s start with Florida. Then we’ll swing back to the international question at the end.
Living or traveling in South Florida
“We can’t go back to the days before Zika, where you just walked around without thinking about bug spray or the clothes you’re wearing,” Curry says. “People still need to practice good mosquito-bite prevention when they’re living in South Florida or traveling there.”
The CDC outlines the precautions needed in Miami-Dade County and other areas of the U.S. where Zika has circulated, such as Brownsville, Texas.
These precautions are most important for pregnant women, those trying to get pregnant and their mates. For example:
- Expectant couples should continue to use condoms, “every time they have sex (including vaginal, anal, and oral sex),” the CDC writes, because the Zika virus can stay in the semen of an infected man for months.
- Pregnant women should continue to get tested for Zika up to eight weeks after the travel ban has been lifted for a region — which would be until about August of 2017 for South Florida