Jamaica advises women to delay pregnancy due to Zika virus

Aedes aegypti mosquito
This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. On Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, U.S. health officials are telling pregnant women to avoid travel to Latin America and Caribbean countries with outbreaks of a tropical illness linked to birth defects. The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites from Aedes aegypti and causes only a mild illness in most people. But there’s been mounting evidence linking the virus to a surge of a rare birth defect in Brazil. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Jamaica’s health minister is advising women to delay plans to become pregnant for the next six to 12 months due to the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The island has not even recorded any cases of Zika, which is spreading in the Americas and is suspected of causing over 3,500 babies to be born with brain damage in Brazil.

But Health Minister Horace Dalley says it’s just a matter of time before the dengue-like virus makes it to the island. It is already confirmed in nearby Haiti.

Dalley said Monday in a statement that pregnant women should take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Growing evidence links Zika to microcephaly, a rare condition in which newborns have smaller than normal heads and their brains do not develop properly.

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