by Loren G. Edelstein | September 30, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new statement yesterday advising pregnant women to avoid travel to Southeast Asia. An excerpt from that statement follows. For more information, visit

Travelers have returned from certain areas of Southeast Asia with Zika virus infection. While our understanding of the complications of Zika virus infection continues to evolve, and pending broader international surveillance efforts for Zika virus infection, we are providing pregnant women and their partners updated recommendations on reducing their risk for travel-related Zika virus infection. CDC recommends pregnant women should consider postponing nonessential travel to Southeast Asia countries with reports of Zika virus infection from local transmission or related to travel to those countries, and those countries with adjacent borders where limited information is available to fully evaluate risk of Zika virus infection. 

Zika virus infection during pregnancy causes severe birth defects, including microcephaly and severe fetal brain abnormalities. Therefore, pregnant women should talk with their health-care provider and consider postponing nonessential travel to Southeast Asia. Zika virus testing should be offered to pregnant women and considered for other people who have symptoms of Zika virus disease if they have recently traveled to Southeast Asia.

Zika virus has been present in areas of Southeast Asia for many years, and several countries have reported occasional cases or small outbreaks of Zika virus infections. Zika virus is considered endemic in some countries, and a large number of local residents are likely to be immune. However, U.S. travelers to endemic areas may not be immune to Zika virus and infections have occurred among travelers to Southeast Asia. 

Recent variations have been observed in the number of cases reported in Southeast Asia. This can reflect changes in awareness of Zika virus, surveillance and testing for Zika virus, or changes in intensity of Zika virus transmission. Pregnant women traveling to Southeast Asia could become infected with Zika virus. The level of this risk is unknown and likely lower than in areas where Zika virus is newly introduced and spreading widely.

Countries included in this travel message include those listed below. For country-specific information, please visit Health Information for Travelers for individual countries: