The CDC just added 11 Southeast Asian countries to their list of areas pregnant women and those who are trying to conceive should avoid. Is your next travel destination on the list?
The CDC's list of areas with active Zika transmission grows regularly, but this news is pretty huge: The CDC has warned pregnant women (and those who are trying to conceive) against traveling to a whopping 11 countries in Southeast Asia.
The list of countries expectant parents should avoid includes Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor) and Vietnam.
While Zika has become a global health issue in the past year, the virus has actually been present in Southeast Asia for several years, according to a media statement from the CDC. Occasional outbreaks have been reported in the region, but it's believed that some people from the area may be immune. However, tourists may not share the same immunity, and as we know by now, the effects of Zika can be incredibly serious for pregnant women. The link between Zika and microcephaly has been confirmed, and we've recently learned the virus can lead to other birth defects as well.
You should obviously avoid travel to all of these areas if you're currently pregnant—but even if you're not expecting at the moment, men and women who are hoping to become parents in the near future should not visit any of the areas the CDC has cautioned against. Men who have been exposed to the virus should delay conception until six months after exposure (don't forget that the virus can be passed through sexual contact!) and women should avoid unprotected sex for six months as well if they experience any symptoms of the virus.