Health warnings continue for Zika-affected Miami neighborhood

CLEVELAND CLINIC - Recent cases of Zika virus are prompting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to warn folks, for the first time, to avoid traveling to a community within the continental United States.

The CDC is warning pregnant women not to travel to certain areas of Miami, where residents have been recently infected with Zika by local mosquitoes.

Dr. Tosin Goje, of Cleveland Clinic, says that folks who are pregnant or planning to start a family need to be extra cautious before traveling anywhere where Zika virus is in circulation.

"If you need to go to Miami County and you're considering starting a family, you should speak to your health care provider first, and if you're pregnant and can avoid traveling, that would be better," she said.

Dr. Goje says that Zika virus is primarily transmitted by mosquito bites, but it can also be sexually transmitted. Doctors now know that the virus can cause microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby's head and brain are smaller and under-developed.

Dr. Goje says that Zika virus has also been linked to other complications in newborns such as eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth.

She says it's important for people who have traveled to areas where Zika virus is present to be aware of any potential symptoms if illness, including headaches, bone pain, fever or rash. Eighty percent of people who are infected won't show symptoms, and for those who do have symptoms, they are often mild, so Dr. Goje says it's important not to dismiss them.

"If you travel to a Zika area and you're pregnant, please reach out to your primary care or OB/GYN, and they will offer you testing and ultrasound as needed," she said. "If your partner is symptomatic, we also have the opportunity to test symptomatic men to make sure that they are well cared for."

Dr. Goje says that if a pregnant woman or her partner has traveled to any of the Zika-affected areas, she should either abstain from sex or use contraception consistently and correctly for the duration of the pregnancy as a precaution