The recent recommendation from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for pregnant American women to think twice about any plans to travel to Brazil and other countries facing Zika virus outbreaks has been regarded by Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Castro as sensible.
Castro understand the guideline is not a recommendation against traveling to these places. “I think that's just sensible advice. Here in Brazil people have been cautious and we've been endorsing all of CDC's recommendations,” he said while introducing the Discriminatory NAT Kit for Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya, which enables quicker, all-in-one diagnosis of the three diseases. The first 50,000 kits will be provided in late February.
“The test we're providing now can objectively tell the disease the patient has been infected with within two hours. This information is crucial for pregnant women,” the minister said.
The health minister said he would not advise foreign travelers to avoid visiting Brazil. “A foreign woman who comes to Brazil and becomes pregnant, or who is already pregnant prior to visiting, will be subject to the same conditions. They should take all steps to avoid contact with Aedes aegypti [the mosquito that transmits the zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses],” he said.
Amid Brazil's microcephaly epidemic caused by the zika virus, which appeared in the country in May 2015, pregnant women are advised by the minister to step up their precautions.
The recommendations include wearing pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks, and closed-in shoes. “In other words, they should cover their bodies as much as possible, use repellents, and do all they can to avoid contact with the virus,” he said.
Translated by Mayra Borges