Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex just announced that Meghan Markle is pregnant with their first child. The news comes as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are undertaking their first overseas trip as a married couple — which also involves a visit to two countries where the Zika virus has been detected.
The royal couple, who married in May, shared the news on Monday that they are expecting their first child. A tweet from Kensington Palace said the couple was “very pleased ” to announce the news and that the baby is expected to be born next spring.
The news comes as Harry and Meghan kick off a big royal tour to not only Australia and New Zealand but also Fiji and Tonga. The Zika virus has been detected in both Fiji and Tonga, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tonga is under a travel alert related to Zika by the CDC. For Fiji, the CDC notes that Zika is a risk in the country.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle “sought medical advice” before making their decision, according to People, and the royal couple will go ahead with the trip despite the risks. If pregnant women contract the Zika virus, they may pass it to their fetus; Zika can cause birth defects including brain abnormalities called microcephaly.
Because Zika can lead to microcephaly and other serious birth defects, the CDC cautions pregnant women against traveling to areas with a risk for the virus. The Zika virus is spread primarily by mosquito bites and sexual transmission from an infected person. According to the CDC, it’s possible to become infected by the virus but not know it, and pass it to others through sex even months after contracting Zika. Pregnant couples who do travel to regions affected by Zika are warned to avoid mosquito bites and use condoms during sex.