Fact Check: The Zika Virus is no longer a risk across the Caribbean Islands

Pregnant or thinking about conceiving while visiting the Caribbean Islands, read on

False

The WHO said ‘the country classification system no longer met the needs of surveillance in the post-epidemic period and has been discontinued as of October 17, 2018.'

Which means the WHO actually discontinued the entire Zika classification system, and did not change the Caribbean Island’s rating.

A spokesperson for the CDC said that the move by WHO to eliminate its categorization system “is in line with Zika virus infection moving from an emergency response to a sustained longer-term program of work similar to other diseases.”

But, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to publish Zika travel alerts for Americas when traveling to the Caribbean.

As of October 30, 2018, the CDC’s Travel Alert Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions, remained in effect for the Caribbean.   

As an example, the CDC’s Travel Alert for the US Virgin Islands says ‘Pregnant women should NOT travel to areas with risk of Zika, because an infection during pregnancy can pass the Zika virus to her fetus.

And, infants born with a Zika infection can have serious birth defects, such as microcephaly.

Additionally, several CDC Travel Alerts say:

  • Pregnant women should NOT travel to areas with risk of Zika. This is because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.
  • All travelers to areas with risk of Zika should (1) prevent mosquito bites and (2) use condoms or not have sex to protect against Zika during travel.
  • And, they should continue to take these precautions after their trip to stop the spread of Zika to others back home.

Since this is a confusing situation, the best advice the CDC offers to women intending to visit the Caribbean Islands is to speak with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist regarding your personal situation.