WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Officials in the U.K. diagnosed three British travelers with the Zika virus as the Centers for Disease Control in the United States expanded its travel warnings.
The Public Health England agency said the three cases are "associated with travel to Colombia, Suriname and Guyana." Zika virus is spread by the same types of mosquitoes that transmit dengue and chikungunya and are found in the Americas, including the United States.
Hospitalizations and fatalities are rare, with symptoms such as rash and fever lasting from a few days to one week. The virus was first isolated from a monkey in Uganda's Zika forest in 1947.
The CDC added several countries to the list pregnant women should avoid in travels.
The list now includes Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
The Zika virus has been linked to brain damage in newborns. There is no vaccine or medication to prevent or cure Zika virus infection.
The virus has also been linked to an epidemic of microcephaly -- a developmental defect resulting in a smaller-than-normal head or brain -- in Brazil, and the birth defect has been found in other children where the Zika virus has been confirmed. The first case of Zika in the United States was confirmed in Puerto Rico on Jan. 1, with the first baby with microcephaly born in Hawaii two weeks later.
Stephen Feller contributed to this report.