NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Vacation season is here and so are the mosquitoes. Health officials are reminding New Yorkers to watch out for the Zika virus when booking their trips because hundreds of locals have contracted the virus while traveling.
Deputy Mayor Edminia Palacios said that although the World Health Organization declared the Zika emergency over, the virus is still circulating in parts of South America, Central America (including Mexico), and the Caribbean (including the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico).
In New York City alone, 402 pregnant moms and 32 babies tested positive for Zika. But Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said that infected doesn't always mean affected. She notes of the 32 babies diagnosed with Zika, half had reported birth defects associated with the virus, including the most profound and damaging: microcephaly, or shrinking of the brain.
While cases of Zika worldwide are down from last summer, travel advisories remain even in the United States. The CDC cautions pregnant women to postpone travel to Miami, Florida, and Brownsville, Texas.
New York health officials are concerned about the many New Yorkers who have family in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, where Zika is still the most prevalent.
Dr. Bassett said New Yorkers should be aware that Zika can be sexually transmitted. In fact, seven New Yorkers contracted Zika through sex with a partner who had traveled to a place where the virus is prevalent.
The Health Department said men and women who travel to Zika-affected areas should use protection during sex for 6 months and women should avoid becoming pregnant for at least two months.