Pregnant women told to avoid trips to Miami area due to risk of contracting Zika

Warning comes after Florida confirms 10 new mosquito-borne cases

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Jose Wesley, who suffers from microcephaly, is bathed in his home in Poco Fundo, Brazil / File photo: AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Pregnant women and partners have been told to avoid travelling to the Miami area affected by the Zika virus, as 10 new cases are confirmed in Florida.

The Department of Foreign Affairs warned women who are pregnant or who are trying to become pregnant to consider postponing their travel.

The caution comes as officials confirm a total of 14 cases in the state, all thought to have been spread by local mosquitoes. Two of the cases are women and 12 are men.

The infections are thought to have occurred in a small area north of downtown Miami, in the Wynwood arts district, although the travel warning covers about a square mile in Wynwood to the east of the Interstate 95 and south of Interstate 195.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said men and women who have recently visited the area should wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive a child.

Because Zika infection has been found to linger in sperm for months, men with Zika symptoms should wait at least six months before trying to have a baby with their partner.

Zika has been associated with the birth defect microcephaly, which can cause children to be born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, meanwhile, has called for a federal emergency response team to help state authorities contain the virus.

The White House confirmed the team would be deployed "in short order".

Some critics, however, have said that Florida was too slow in calling for the CERT and that it, therefore, had not been taking every possible step to contain the spread of the virus.

More than 200 people have been tested in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties after the first reports of the virus early last month.

Mr Scott said: "We will continue to keep our residents and visitors safe utilising constant surveillance and aggressive strategies, such as increased mosquito spraying, that have allowed our state to fight similar viruses."

US health experts have said they do not expect an outbreak on the scale seen in Brazil, Latin America and the Caribbean, mainly because of Florida's better sanitation, mosquito control and use of window screens and air conditioning.

Irish citizens concerned about the infections have been advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.