Don't forget about Zika when planning vacation, health officials say

Aedes albopictus mosquito
The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites.
James Gathany | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP

Planning a warm-weather vacation this winter?

If so, state health officials say you should keep Zika outbreaks in mind when picking a destination.

The virus has been detected throughout much of Latin America and parts of Florida. Zika can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly if the virus infects a pregnant woman.

Pregnant women and couples considering having kids should avoid those places, said Minnesota Department of Health Epidemiologist Elizabeth Schiffman.

Even if you're not pregnant, experts encourage a long wait period before pregnancy after potential Zika exposure — eight weeks for women and six months for men, Schiffman said.

While avoiding Zika-affected areas in vacation planning can be tough, there are some destinations that are safer.

"Hawaii hasn't had any evidence of Zika-virus circulation," Schiffman said, "so Hawaii could definitely be on the table [and] other warmer weather parts in the contiguous United States."

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