MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The rapid spread of the Zika virus prompted the World Health Organization to declare an international emergency Monday.

Experts are worried about a surge in the number of babies born with birth defects in South and Central America. They suspect mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are to blame.

Doctors are urging travelers to take precautions or postpone trips to tropical climates for pregnant women. That’s caused some Minnesota travelers to re-think their plans.

“Switching was kind of, it was definitely not in the plans but,” Stephanie Evavold said.

“Especially two days before,” husband Alex Evavold chimed in.

The Evavold’s said “I do” in August. But the newlyweds wanted to wait until winter to escape to Mexico for their honeymoon. By that time Stephanie was pregnant. And then they learned about the Zika virus.

“Well, I cried for a while because I was pretty upset about it but I don’t know. I just had to accept that fact that this was the best thing. I wanted to do what’s best for my baby obviously,” Stephanie Evavold said.

So the Clearwater couple contacted their travel agent at Travel Leaders in Albertville.

“It’s part of our lives. There’s always something. In travel, no matter what’s happening in the world, it affects travel,” owner Bonnie Lee said.

Lee says four expecting couples have cancelled their trips to Zika-affected areas, including the Evavold’s.

Each traveler chose how to move forward.

“So they’re choosing not to travel at this particular time, maybe get a travel voucher, maybe go somewhere in the United States,” Lee said.

The Evavold’s decided on a new location, the Bahamas. It came at a higher cost, but the change gave them peace of mind.

“Yes, it was all good. Yep. No worries in the world,” Alex Evavold said.

The WHO emergency declaration means there will be resources dedicated to help stop spread the virus and to go towards research to find a treatment. Currently there is no cure or vaccine for Zika.

A woman from Anoka County contracted the virus after a trip to Honduras, but she is expected to recover.

Jennifer Mayerle

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