Fear of Zika virus rising as MN travel agencies cancel trips

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Fear of the explosively-spreading Zika virus has caused some Minnesotans to cancel travel plans out of the country.

According to the Star Tribune, one metro-area travel agent plans to advise all pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas affected by the virus. KSTP adds that a travel agency in Albertville just had a destination wedding trip canceled because the bride is in the early stages of pregnancy and didn't want to risk infection.

Other agencies have seen trips canceled out of fear of the virus, too.

An Anoka woman who recently returned from Honduras contracted the virus but is doing OK. That is the only confirmed case in Minnesota.

Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and is not passable from person to person. The mosquito that spreads it is not native to North America. It is passable from mother to fetus, thus the concern for pregnant women.

USA Today notes that four of five people infected won't notice any symptoms, but Zika can be especially harmful to newborn babies – capable of causing birth defects in which babies are born with small heads and underdeveloped brains.

Zika has been reported in 25 countries (see the full list at the bottom of the story).

The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Monday and the result could be declaring the virus a "public health emergency of international concern," USA Today says. Emergency declarations have only been declared three times:

  • 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic
  • 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa
  • Polio in Syria in 2014

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Affected nations include: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

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