Stay clear of Zika-prone countries if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
That was the message from city health officials Thursday as New Yorkers plan their summer vacations. Just about every country in the Caribbean and Central and South America remain Zika infection zones.
“A lot of people feel when summer comes they have to go to the islands. If you’re pregnant, you should not travel where there is Zika,” said Dr. Mary Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, during a press conference at Urban Health Plan in the Bronx. “There are islands here you can travel to, but it should not be to the Caribbean islands.”
Since the outbreak, virtually every Zika diagnosis in New York was a result of someone who traveled to a danger area, she said. So far, 1,067 New Yorkers — 402 of them pregnant — have tested positive for the Zika virus.
To date, 32 babies have been born with the virus, and 16 will suffer from severe lifelong birth defects, Bassett said.
“We are talking about protecting babies,” she said. “Some women don’t have the information despite our efforts. This is something parent and child have to live with for the rest of their lives.”
“Zika can cause a small head syndrome that we call microcephaly, as well as many other neurological problems,” she added.
Some cases can be transmitted sexually and she urged travelers to use condoms when traveling to Zika-known countries.
Dr. Wilfrido Castillo, an OB/GYN at the urban health clinic, said most Zika patients don’t experience symptoms early on.
But he asked travelers to be vigilant for skin rashes, fever and red eyes.
“The problem is that when they get sick, they don’t look sick,” Castillo…