El Salvador advises women to avoid pregnancy due to virus

El Salvador health officials advise women to avoid pregnancies for next two years to prevent Zika virus complications

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A health worker fumigates the Altos del Cerro neighbourhood as part of preventive measures against the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases in Soyapango, El Salvador January 21, 2016

Public health officials in El Salvador are advising women to put off pregnancies for the next two years to avoid complications resulted from the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Vice-minister of public health Eduardo Espinoza said Thursday women who are already pregnant should stay covered outdoors to reduce the risk of mosquito bites. There are 96 suspected cases of pregnant women with the virus in El Salvador.

Brazilian authorities in November linked Zika to a surge in babies born with microcephaly, a birth defect that seriously limits a child's mental and physical abilities.

The infants tend to have smaller than normal heads and their brains do not fully develop.

The United States warned pregnant women to avoid travel to 14 countries including Brazil due to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.

Zika was first detected in Africa in the 1940s but was unknown in the Americas until last year.

The mosquito-transmitted disease has been confirmed in countries including Brazil, Panama, Venezuela, El Salvador, Mexico, Suriname, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Guatemala and Paraguay, according to public health officials.

Brazil has reported nearly 2,000 cases of babies born with microcephaly, or unusually small brains, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said this month.

The WHO said the cause of the outbreak in Brazil had yet to be determined.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Oxitec biotech firm said tests that began in April 2015 have shown that the release of genetically modified sterile male mosquitoes succeeded in reducing a variety of disease-transmitting mosquito larvae by 82 percent by the end of the year in a neighbourhood of the city of Piracicaba, Brazil.

The announcement in El Salvador came at the launch of an anti-mosquito campaign which shows the same mosquito also transmits the fever-inducing dengue and chikungunya viruses.

TRTWorld, AP