Pregnant Britons urged to rethink South America travel amid Zika virus outbreak


Pregnant Britons planning trips to areas affected by the Zika virus are being urged to reconsider their travel plans because of risks posed to their unborn children.

There is an unprecedented outbreak of the virus in Brazil and health experts have warned that it is likely it could spread to nearly all of the Americas.

The virus - which causes symptoms including rash, fever, conjunctivitis and headache - has been linked to birth defects in children born to mothers infected while they are pregnant.

Around 4,000 babies born to mothers infected with the Zika virus in Brazil have been born with microcephaly - a condition where the child has an underdeveloped brain.

Travel advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre urges pregnant women to reconsider travel to areas where the outbreak has been reported.

The virus has already been found in 21 countries: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname and Venezuela.

Yesterday, the World Health Organisation said that the virus is likely to spread across nearly all of the Americas apart from Canada and Chile.

There is no treatment or vaccine and many South American countries have called on women to consider implications of the infection before getting pregnant.

Today, UK Sport are to give their first media briefing of the year ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Executives will no doubt answer questions on the implications of the outbreak on the Games.