(CNN)Vaccines and antibiotics have made many infectious diseases a thing of the past; we’ve come to expect that public health and modern science can conquer all microbes. But nature is a formidable adversary. And Zikais our newest threat, particularly to pregnant women.
New, unfamiliar and mysterious threats to our health are scary. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — where we identify, on average, one new health threat each year — we work around the clock with an approach that prioritizes finding out what we need to know as fast as we can to protect Americans.
The CDC has some of the world’s leading experts both in diseases spread by mosquitoes and in fetal abnormalities. We get the facts, base actions on science, tell people what we know when we know it and what we are doing to add to our knowledge, and act to protect Americans today as effectively as possible.
Most people in the contiguous United States are unlikely to ever come into contact with the Zika virus, but two groups need particular attention. First, people living in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean or Pacific territories, and Central and South America are likely to see an increasing spread of Zika. In these areas, women who are pregnant need to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using repellants, permethrin-coated clothing, long sleeves and pants, and by staying indoors (ideally in places with air conditioning) as much as is practical. We advise pregnant women to postpone travel to areas where Zika is spreading.