The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has officially advised that pregnant women avoid nonessential travel to Southeast Asia and the Maldives due to risk of infection by the Zika virus, which has been found to cause extreme birth defects such as microcephaly. Eleven countries in particular were singled out by the report — Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), and Vietnam.
The CDC said that Zika is endemic in parts of Southeast Asia, and that some travelers to the area had become infected by the virus. While many local residents are believed to be immune to the disease, visitors are unlikely to possess such immunity. The CDC advisory did note, however, that the risk of infection in Southeast Asia was “unknown and likely lower than in areas where Zika virus is newly introduced and spreading widely.”
The CDC has now officially warned pregnant women against traveling to nearly 60 countries due to risk of Zika infection.
Read the full story at TIME.