How Meghan Markle Will Avoid Zika Virus In Fiji & Tonga, As It Can Cause ‘Severely Damaged Brains’ In Babies

Meghan and Harry prepare for Zika.
Mark Metcalfe / Stringer / Getty Images

Meghan Markle’s happy baby announcement came just before she and Prince Harry were due to set off on their first international tour. However, some people have been concerned about their stops in Fiji and Tonga. Namely, because some experts advise pregnant women, and women who are hoping to conceive, from visiting these countries.

So if you’re wondering how the royal couple is going to manage being in Zika-risk countries, you might be glad to know that the Duchess is reportedly going to avoid rainforests and jungles, according to Express. That’s because the virus is spread via mosquitoes.

Moreover, the NHS advises people to avoid being stung by mosquitoes by using DEET repellent. Apparently, even pregnant women can use it, as long as they use about half of the regular amount. Plus, people can wear “loose clothing that covers your arms [and] legs.”

The virus has also been reportedly spreading between people in Tonga, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the reason that the Zika virus is so dangerous is because it can cause “severe birth defects” for the fetus. Not only that, but there’s no vaccine or medicine to prevent or treat Zika.

However, the decision was reached by the couple after receiving information from a doctor.

Expert Dr. Jennifer Ashton also weighed in, detailed ABC News.

“In Obstetrics, my advice is always to err on the side of caution. But many decisions that arise during pregnancy are for the pregnant woman, her partner and her OB or midwife to make.”

The reason that people worry about Zika so much is because it can also be hard to detect. For example, a study revealed that even babies that appear healthy and normal at birth can later exhibit symptoms.

During the study, researchers discovered that out of 1,450 babies who were exposed to the Zika virus, 6 percent were born with defects and 14 percent had potentially Zika-related defects by their 1st birthday.

Unfortunately, the effects of babies of pregnant women exposed to the Zika virus are still being researched. The idea that babies can be affected by it as they develop is something that scientists are just now discovering.

The latest outbreak was in Brazil in 2016, where babies were born with “very small heads and severely damaged brains,” noted NPR. Other symptoms include “seizures, damaged vision and developmental disorders.”

But as Dr. Ashton said, the decision is really up to Meghan and Harry when it comes to their international tour. For now, the two are still planning on visiting Tonga and Fiji as expected.