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Jun 15 2016

The Zika Virus and Pregnancy

 

By, Donna L. Carter, M.Ed. - AHVN Training Institute

Summer is almost here, and that means mosquitos. By now, most of us have heard about the Zika virus, and know that it is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. But did you know that pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant, face the greatest complications from the virus? While those who are not pregnant, generally suffer from mild symptoms such as rash, joint pain and fever, serious birth defects have been reported in children born to women who are infected with the virus.  This is what the CDC knows about the virus so far.

Areas Most at Risk

The latest reports from the CDC show no local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases reported in the United States. However, there have been travel-associated cases. The following map shows the CDC’s best estimate of the potential range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in the United States and areas where the mosquitoes are or have been previously found:

 

 

 

 

Because many families travel during the summer months, the CDC offers these tips on how families can protect themselves from Zika while they enjoy their vacations.  Specific areas where Zika is spreading are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time.  So, if traveling, advise your families to visit the CDC Travelers' Health site for the most updated travel information and to see their PCP or other healthcare provider if they are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks after traveling to a place where Zika has been reported.

 

 

Precautions

Regardless of where a woman resides, if she is pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, it’s always better to err on the side of caution, and do whatever she can to avoid mosquito bites. It’s also important to note that these precautions also apply to the women's partner, because Zika can be transmitted sexually.

Here’s some tips to share with your families:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents
  • Don't have unprotected sex with a partner who may be infected with Zika or who has recently visited a Zika-affected area. If you do have sex, use a condom
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants, even during the daytime (these are daytime biting mosquitoes, and like to enter peoples' home)
  • Control mosquitos at home
  • Know what the carrier looks like. A. aegypti mosquitoes have white stripes on their legs and a marking in the shape of a lyre on their backs

Remember, most people infected with Zika virus won’t even know they have the disease because they won’t have symptoms. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for the virus is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week. Advise families to contact their PCP immediately if they think they have been exposed to or contracted the virus, and to stay current on virus information, please visit the CDC’s website.

Additional Resources

You can find additional information on this topic at these sites:

 

Funding for this blog is made possible by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number D89MC23141 of the Affordable Care Act - Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program awarded to the Arkansas Department of Health. The information or content and conclusions expressed in this material is the author's and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.


 

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