The US government has issued an emergency travel advisory for tourists, warning that the Zika virus has been spreading widely in Brazil.
The US National Institutes of Health issued an alert on Thursday, warning about “potential increases in travel risks from the Zika epidemic in the Americas”.
The warning comes as travel has become a top concern for US officials and the US Congress in light of the mosquito-borne virus that is currently ravaging South America.
The outbreak has affected the Americas most populous country, with the US leading the region with almost 2.5 million confirmed cases, followed by Brazil, with 2.1 million.
The countries’ travel advisories also highlighted the importance of personal protective equipment, including masks and gowns.
US travel advisory from the National Institutes, which advises on public health issues, advises travelers to avoid traveling to: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Zambia.
The CDC has warned travelers to take extra precautions in Brazil, including wearing long sleeves, gloves, and a head covering if visiting the country.
In Argentina, authorities said they are working with other agencies to contain the virus.
“It’s important to note that this virus does not pose a threat to anyone who does not have a fever or are currently in an active virus test,” the state-run state-owned newspaper El Tiempo reported.
“But we are taking precautions in the most important places, such as the US, to minimize the spread of the virus.”
Experts have warned that if the virus becomes widespread, there could be widespread deaths, as a pandemic sweeps through the Americas.
It is currently unknown if the disease will spread outside of Brazil, but experts say the risk of it reaching the US has not yet been established.
The National Institutes warned travelers that travel is not safe unless it is approved.
US officials have urged people to limit their travel to only those areas where there is clear public health infrastructure, including health centres, hospitals and clinics.
The advisory is also available online.