NATIONAL. Science Says: Pregnant or trying? Don’t let Zika guard down (Associated Press)

By LAURAN NEERGAARD

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Zika virus may not seem as big a threat as last summer but don’t let your guard down — especially if you’re pregnant or trying to be.

While cases of the birth defect-causing virus have dropped sharply from last year’s peak in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, Zika hasn’t disappeared from the region and remains a potential threat.

It’s hard to predict how much risk people face in locales with smoldering infection, or if cases might spike again. For now, pregnant women still are being urged not to travel to a country or area with even a few reported cases of Zika, because the consequences can be disastrous for a fetus’ brain ...

Back in the U.S., public health advocates worry that $1.1 billion Congress approved last year to study and fight Zika is running out — including funding for a birth defects surveillance program intended to monitor affected babies’ development and connect them to health services.

That surveillance is critical for knowing what’s going on, said Dr. Oscar Alleyne of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. “Otherwise we’re flying blind.”

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