Airlines offer refunds to those booked to travel to areas affected by Zika virus

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(AP) — United Airlines says customers booked to fly to areas affected by the Zika virus can reschedule or get refunds.

American Airlines says it will give refunds to pregnant women who were planning to travel to parts of Central America.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned pregnant women to take precautions against mosquito bites when traveling to areas in Latin America and the Caribbean where there have been Zika outbreaks.

The United Airlines offer began Tuesday and includes any country covered by a CDC travel notice. American Airlines began refunds Monday for pregnant passengers holding tickets to El Salvador, Honduras, Panama or Guatemala.

Fourteen countries were initially listed in the CDC’s advisory warning, but eight more have been added in South America, the Caribbean and Polynesia.

The new locations are Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Guyana; Cape Verde, off the coast of western Africa; and Samoa.

The previous alert included Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

The Zika virus — spread through mosquito bites — has been linked to birth defects in babies, specifically microcephaly, in which the head is smaller than normal and the brain has not developed properly.

In Brazil, there have been over 3,900 cases. One case was confirmed here in Hawaii, but officials say that the mother is no longer infectious. She resided in Brazil in May 2015 and her newborn acquired the infection in the womb.

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