"Currently, I am telling my pregnant patients not to travel to locations where the Zika virus has been identified," said Dr. William Schweizer of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center. "If we are treating mothers who have a history of traveling to these places, we are having them get more frequent ultrasounds to make sure their babies are growing properly. I am also giving my patients other practical advice like having them purchase travel insurance."
United Airlines recently announced that they would allow customers who are worried about the virus to postpone or cancel their trips if they have purchased tickets to Zika-affected areas. American Airlines also began to issue refunds to pregnant passengers holding tickets to El Salvador, Honduras, Panama or Guatemala, according to a spokesman.
If people are living in places with Aedes mosquitoes, they are advised to use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothes and use insect screens or mosquito nets while inside. To help control the mosquito population, people should cover domestic water tanks, unblock drains, avoid accumulating garbage and avoid allowing water to stagnate in outdoor containers such as flower pots.
Some affected countries have called on women to delay pregnancy because of the possible link to microcephaly. El Salvador has suggested that women wait until 2018, while Colombia, Ecuador and Jamaica (where the virus' presence is unconfirmed) have called for shorter delays, according to media reports.
"I would advise everyone to be cautious about exposure, but that type of response does not seem reasonable," said Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency room physician with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. "Right now, I think that many people are very sensitive to emerging diseases. I think it is good, though, that the CDC is raising awareness about mosquito-borne illnesses in general."