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Pregnant Meghan Markle Is Heading to Zika-Stricken Countries—How Safe Is It?

On Monday, Kensington Palace made the exciting announcement that newlyweds Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expecting their first child. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are currently in the midst of their first royal tour together, arriving in Australia early Monday morning. Over the next 16 days the couple are expected to tour Australia and New Zealand as well as two island nations, Fiji and Tonga, where the Zika virus — which can cause serious birth defects — has been detected.

However, the royal couple has opted to continue with their travels, despite the risk of the mosquit0-borne virus.

What is Zika, exactly?

According to the CDC, Zika is a virus spread to humans primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. After a pregnant woman contracts the virus, it can be passed to her fetus and the infection can be seriously detrimental to the health of her child. In addition to severe fetal brain defects, zika is primarily known to cause a birth defect called microcephaly, where a baby’s head is unusually small.

While usually contracted through mosquito bites, it can also be spread through sex without a condom with someone who has been infected by zika, and usually does not even know it. The scariest thing? As of now, zika isn’t treatable. “It is important to know that there is neither a vaccine nor prophylactic medications available to prevent Zika virus infection,” fertility specialist Zaher Merhi, MD, FACOG, HCLD of New Hope Fertility Center in New York tells Prevention.

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Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019. Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public. ?PA

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What precautions are Meghan and Harry likely taking?

While the CDC discourages any travel to areas with risk of Zika — including both Fiji and Tonga — the royal couple has decided to go along with their travels. However, it’s very likely they are taking precautions.

Dr. Merhi notes that both Harry and Meghan could contract Zika both indoors or out during the time they are in Fiji or Tonga, with the biggest risk being during the daytime. Therefore, it’s likely we will see a trend in Markle’s fashion choices while she is visiting both islands — no exposed limbs. “It is important to ensure protection from mosquitoes throughout the entire day by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants,” he explains. Additionally, it is likely they will be using registered insect repellents, and staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

How to prevent Zika virus

As for the CDC, they have issued the following precautions for both pregnant women as well as the partners of pregnant women (i.e. Prince Harry) who do so.

Pregnant women

Travelers who have a pregnant partner

From: Prevention US

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