The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta has issued a travel advisory for pregnant women visiting Florida due to the Zika virus outbreak.
The CDC is also advising women who travel to Florida to avoid getting pregnant until at least 8 weeks after visiting the Florida area.
“Women who were in this area and left this area recently should wait at least eight weeks before trying to get pregnant,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said during a news conference Monday.
The Zika virus is transmitted primarily via mosquito bite. The virus is also sexually transmitted. The virus causes abnormally small heads, known as microcephaly, and brain damage in babies.
Frieden defended the agency’s decision not to issue a travel advisory last week when Florida Governor Rick Scott activated the CDC’s emergency response team to combat the mosquito outbreak.
“What we have learned over past 48 hours is mosquito control efforts don’t appear to be as effective as we have previously hoped,” he said. Frieden said health officials did not feel the need to expand the area included in the travel advisory since the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the Zika virus rarely flies beyond 150 meters in its lifetime.
At least 14 people have been infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Florida.
In addition, 10 new cases were reported on Monday in South Florida, according to ABC News.
Officials urge Florida residents to remain calm as they battle the virus.