Zika Virus and Pregnancy Warnings

Recently the father of my patients informed me that he and his pregnant wife were planning a trip to the Caribbean.  He was unaware of the risks of the Zika Virus activity in that area and the possible risk to his wife’s pregnancy. After we talked he changed his vacation plans and will not travel to an area at risk. Please read the following information so you can protect yourself and your children.

The CDC releases updates on what is known about the Zika Virus. As of March 23, 2016, the CDC reports 273 Zika virus disease cases in the US but these are associated with travel outside the US. Of these cases 19 are pregnant women and 6 were sexually transmitted. There have been no cases where the Zika virus illness was acquired in the US.

    • The primary way that pregnant women get Zika virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito.
    • Zika virus can be spread by sexual activity.
    • Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or at delivery.

The Florida Department of Health has activated the Zika Virus Hotline 1-855-622-6735.

Zika and Microcephaly (small head size)

Since May 2015, Brazil has experienced a significant outbreak of Zika virus. In recent months, Brazilian officials reported an increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly.

In addition to microcephaly, other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. Although Zika virus has been linked with these other problems in infants, there is more to learn. Researchers are collecting data to better understand the extent Zika virus’ impact on mothers and their children.

Are you pregnant or planning to get pregnant?

Avoid travel to an area with Zika

  • Until we know more, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women. Women who are pregnant should not travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading.
  • If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.

Although the Zika Virus has not caused disease in the US so far, mosquitoes carry other viruses that can cause disease.  We need to be prepared in case Zika is found in the US in the future.

Take steps to prevent mosquito bites.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women according to the CDC.
  • Remove or stay away from mosquito breeding sites, like containers with standing water.

Symptoms of the Zika Virus Illness

  • Patients diagnosed with the Zika Virus have had fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during their trip or within 2 weeks after traveling to an area where Zika has been reported.
  • The CDC has guidance to help doctors decide what tests are needed  for pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika.

 

Please call our office if you have any questions or concerns regarding the Zika Virus.

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