The Wyoming Department of Health wants women who are pregnant or may become pregnant – and their partners – to heed Zika-related travel warnings.

The department says there have been no confirmed locally-acquired cases of Zika in the continental U.S., but data from the Centers for Disease Control says 193 travel-associated cases have been reported.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Tracy Murphy says it’s important for expecting mothers and others at risk for the disease to be aware of how the Zika is transmitted and take steps to protect themselves.

“People should know there have been several cases reported in travelers returning to our country after visiting affected areas," says Murphy. "They should also know about the potential serious threat to pregnant women."

The department says in a press release that anyone not already infected who lives or travels to an area where Zika virus is present can get it from bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes. The species does not live in Wyoming because of the climate.

“Zika can be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and there is growing evidence linking the virus to a brain-related type of birth defect known as microcephaly,” says Murphy. “We want women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to consider postponing travel to Zika-affected areas.”

The department adds that people who have unprotected sex with Zika-infected partners may also be at risk.

“Their partners who may be traveling also need to be mindful of the pregnancy-related risks,” says Murphy.

Murphy adds that people in a high-risk group should carefully consider travel decisions and do everything possible to prevent mosquito bites if visiting affected areas.

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika infection and no medicine to treat the virus.

The department says the most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Most infected people don’t realize they have the disease, as the illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting several days to a week.

Department staff is answering the questions of Wyoming residents and healthcare providers regarding the necessity for Zika testing in certain cases.

For more information on Zika and current travel warning information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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