The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) increased its warning level for Zika-affected states in India. The alert, its second-highest on a three-tier scale, advises pregnant women to avoid all travel to parts of India with Zika outbreaks. It also advises other travelers to those areas to take enhanced precautionary measures against mosquito bites and avoid sex without condoms.
The number of Zika cases remains low, but has increased sharply in recent weeks. More than 280 cases were reported between late September and December 1, primarily in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Jaipur and Bhopal have the highest instances of the disease.
Zika is typically benign, though there are established links between the virus and microcephaly (a birth defect where infants are born with abnormally small heads) and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a fatal neurological disorder. The virus is asymptomatic in 80 percent of cases, though symptoms may include fever, headache, rash, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain. The disease is transmitted via mosquito bites and sexual contact, including with asymptomatic carriers of the infection.
Individuals in Madhya Pradesh - in particular pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, and their partners - are advised to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites (e.g. wearing covering clothing, using insect repellent, sleeping in screened-in rooms), and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds (e.g. stagnant water, including rainwater collected in flower pots, tires, gutters, etc.).
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