The Zika virus is a usually transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most individuals fully recover from Zika virus without severe complications, and severe illness or deaths from Zika virus are extremely rare. However, Zika virus can be hazardous to pregnant women and their children.
“Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing,” said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of mosquito-borne diseases at the CDC.
Zika hit countries have warned pregnant women to take safety measures against mosquito bites, and other women not to get pregnant until the crisis is over. They also urged state healthcare providers to treat pregnant women who are infected with the Zika virus as high-risk pregnancies, and to offer scans during the entire pregnancy.
Here are some answers to questions many women are asking:
- Is there a medicine to treat or vaccine to prevent Zika?
No. There is no medicine to treat or vaccine to prevent Zika.
- How will Zika Virus Affect My Unborn Baby?
When a mom-to-be gets infected with Zika virus, the virus can also affect the fetus. In countries hit by Zika virus, there has also been an increase in cases of microcephaly. This detection is why authorities believe Zika infection during pregnancy may lead to a rare neurological disorder known as microcephaly. Microcephaly causes babies to be born with small heads and underdeveloped brains, and in rare cases, it can result in death. The greatest risk to the fetus is believed to be when the mom is infected during the first trimester.
However, the CDC notes, more studies are needed to understand better the connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly.
- Is It Safe to Travel to a Zika-hit Area?
Just to be on the safe side, consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus outbreak is ongoing. Those who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor first and strictly follow measures to avoid mosquito bites during the tour. Women trying to get pregnant should consult a doctor before traveling to Zika affected areas and strictly follow steps to stay away from mosquito during the trip.
- Should a Pregnant Woman Who Traveled to a Zika Hit Area be Tested for the Virus?
Consult a doctor if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within two weeks after traveling to an area where the outbreaks have been reported. Be sure to tell your doctor where you traveled.
- How can I Prevent Zika Virus during Pregnancy
Because there is no vaccine against the infection and medication to treat Zika, the best approach is prevention. Pregnant women should take steps to avoid mosquito bites. To avoid mosquito bites:
- Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks
- Use permethrin-treated clothing
- Stay inside during peak mosquito hours
- Use air conditioning inside
- Apply mosquito repellent
- Is It Safe to Use an Insect Repellent?
Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should choose EPA-registered insect repellents. Using an insect repellent is effective and safe. Also, remember to use it according to the instructions on the product label.
- If a Woman, Who is not Pregnant is Infected with Zika Virus, will Her Future Pregnancies be at Risk?
Three points to know in this regard:
- Zika virus will not harm a baby that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood.
- At present, there is no evidence that Zika virus infection poses a risk of neurological disorders in future pregnancies.
- Women contemplating pregnancy should consult her doctor after recovering.
- Is It Safe to Get Pregnant after Returning from a Zika hit Area?
Consult a doctor. Normally, the virus will not cause problems in a baby that is conceived after it is cleared from the blood.
- Can a Pregnant Woman be Tested for the Infection Months after being in a Zika-hit Area?
At this time, and for many reasons, the CDC doesn’t recommend routine Zika virus testing in pregnant women who have traveled to an affected area. Since the virus can easily cross-react with similar flaviviruses, serological diagnosis is not dependable, and it can lead to false-positive results.
- I Have Traveled to a Zika hit Region, Should I Wait for a Long Time to Getting Pregnant?
Two important things to remember in this regard:
- Currently, there is no evidence that the infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.
- Those who are contemplating pregnancy, who have recently visited a Zika hit area, should consult a healthcare provider.
The officials have urged pregnant women against travel to about two dozen countries, mostly in the Latin America, where the Zika virus outbreak is ongoing.
Authorities have revealed that the Zika virus outbreak across Central and South America has been linked to a neurological birth disorder known as microcephaly.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has urged people take part in the fight against Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.
If you are expecting and have recently visited or live in a Zika hit area, consult a doctor whether or not you’ve experienced any signs of the virus.
The HealthMap system in Portuguese picked up the first indication of a link between Zika virus and the current outbreak of microcephaly in Brazil on November 23, 2015.
Although India has been more fortunate than 22 Zika-hit countries in South America, the risk of India seeing a Zika patient is very high.