Zika virus remains a risk for those heading south
Published Thursday, February 16, 2017 2:40PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 16, 2017 7:19PM EST
While many Montrealers might be preparing for a trip down south to get a break from the cold, Canada’s public health agency is warning that the Zika virus is still a serious concern.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is warning women who are pregnant or planned to be to avoid travelling to certain areas to avoid contracting the mosquito-borne virus.
"When we have patients coming to our clinic we try to restrict the test mostly to pregnant women or women are potentially pregnant," said Dr. Karl Weiss.
"Ninety percent of the time we're talking about pregnant women who went to the Carribean or Florida."
Zika outbreaks have occurred in the U.S. states of Texas and Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America and are all on the list of areas to avoid.
People who become infected with the Zika virus may not feel sick, but the risk is great to babies; medical experts say the Zika virus infection can cause microcephaly -- an abnormally small brain -- in a fetus developing during pregnancy.
"Obviously if you're pregnant during your first trimester and you acquire Zika, the risk of having a certain complication is a lot higher compared to a third trimester," said Dr. Weiss.
The virus may also be linked to Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a nervous system disease that can result in weakness or paralysis.
Canada's public health agency says 476 cases have been identified in this country, with 473 being from recent travellers. In three cases the disease was transmitted sexually.
Out of 27 pregnant women with Zika, two had abnormal fetuses.
There is still no treatment or vaccine for Zika.