Health officials in the United States have advised pregnant women who are scheduled to attend the Olympic Games in Brazil to reconsider their plans because of the Zika virus epidemic.
The C.D.C. issued special precautions for pregnant women who do decide to go to Brazil, as well as for women trying to become pregnant and men with pregnant partners. The C.D.C. said the precautions were necessary “because Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman is linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and miscarriage.”
“The Zika outbreak in Brazil is dynamic,” the C.D.C. said.
The agency said that pregnant women who choose to go to Brazil for the Olympic Games in August should first talk with their physician and then follow precautions to prevent mosquito bites, such as the use of specific insect repellent, covering exposed skin and staying in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
As many as 1.5 million people are believed to have contracted the Zika virus in Brazil, part of a larger outbreak that the World Health Organization this month declared an international public health emergency. Though Zika is not known to be fatal, it has been linked to microcephaly, a condition in which infants are born with small heads and brain damage.
More than 580 babies with microcephaly have been confirmed in Brazil, with an additional 4,100 cases under investigation, according to Reuters.
An estimated 500,000 people are expected to visit Brazil for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21. That potential influx has raised concerns about Zika’s potential spread around the world. Some researchers believe that the virus arrived in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup.
On Friday, the C.D.C. reported that nine pregnant women in the United States had tested positive for Zika, one of whom gave birth to a baby with microcephaly. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the agency’s director, said that scientists were still studying the connection between Zika and the birth defect. The agency’s website showed a total of 107 travel-related Zika cases reported in the United States, minus its territories, but as yet no locally acquired cases.
In the latest advisory, the C.D.C. also recommended that men who travel to the Olympics use condoms or abstain from sex with pregnant partners, advice it has already given to those traveling to areas affected by Zika because of reports that the virus can be sexually transmitted.