The headlines about the Zika virus are scary and the stories of the families affected are so sad.
Virginia Center for Reproductive Medicine recommends that if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, be sure to educate yourself about the Zika virus. Health organizations from around the world are meeting and working together to discuss and respond to this mosquito borne disease. It was first identified in Brazil in May 2015 and has now been detected in over 23 countries. The World Health Organization has declared Latin America a health emergency. As of May 11, 2016, 503 cases have been reported in the US, and 701 in all US territories (outside the 50 states).
What is the Zika Virus?
Zika Virus is a disease that is spread through a mosquito bite. What makes this virus so dangerous is that people don’t usually get sick enough to go to the hospital. Only 20% of those bitten develop symptoms, which are usually mild, lasting several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. For this reason, many people might not realize they have even been infected until they have already transmitted the disease to another person.
How does it spread?
The Zika Virus can be passed from a pregnant mother to her baby during the pregnancy. It can also be transmitted through blood and sexual intercourse.
What are the symptoms of the Zika Virus?
The most common symptoms of Zika are:
· Skin Rash
· Joint pain
· Conjunctivitis (looks like pink eye)
Why is the Zika Virus dangerous to women trying to conceive or pregnant?
The Zika Virus can be passed from a mother to her fetus. The infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called Microcephaly, a serious condition where babies are born with abnormally small heads. Other problems have also been identified in fetuses and babies infected with Zika virus before birth, such as defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. Women who develop the symptoms should not attempt to get pregnant for 8 weeks, and men should wait 6 months. During that period, couples should use condoms.
How can I protect myself from the Zika Virus?
1) Do not travel to an area with Zika.
2) Prevent mosquito bites.
· Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
· Use insect repellent
· Avoid mosquito-breeding areas like bodies of water
3) Avoid sexual interaction with anyone who has lived or traveled to an area with Zika Virus.
Unfortunately, there is no known vaccine or medicine today to prevent someone from getting Zika virus. If you are in the process of trying to get pregnant, be sure to educate yourself about the symptoms and prevention of the Zika Virus. Your healthcare provider would be your best form of contact. To learn more about the Zika Virus, Virginia Center for Reproductive Medicine recommends visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/