News headlines and stories about the Zika virus affecting pregnant women can be frightening for an expectant mother. Options Medical Clinic wants you to be safe and informed. Here are answers to some of the questions you may have about the Zika virus while pregnant.
What Is Zika?
Zika virus disease is caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week. Some people don’t show signs of symptoms at all.
The Zika virus infection during pregnancy, however, can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, or other severe brain defects. One study found that if a pregnant woman is infected with Zika the risk of microcephaly in her baby can range from one percent to 14 percent.
Who is at risk for Zika?
People who have traveled to a country where the Zika virus has been spreading are at risk for infection. This includes, but is not limited to, most countries in Central and South America. Recently, a section of Miami, Florida, has also had several cases of Zika virus. You can check the CDC website for up-to-date information on where Zika virus is being spread before traveling to Florida or internationally. Additionally, if your partner has traveled to a place where the Zika virus is actively spreading, it is important to realize that he could have become infected with the virus even if he does not show any symptoms. It is recommended that condoms are used for the duration of the pregnancy if there is any possibility your partner could be infected, as Zika virus can be sexually transmitted. If you are pregnant and must travel to a location with Zika virus, use an EPA registered insect repellant and wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors. If you are pregnant and concerned that you may have been exposed to Zika, talk to your doctor about being tested for the virus.
How do people get infected with Zika?
You can get infected with Zika through bites from infected mosquitoes or by having unprotected sex with someone who is infected with the virus. Health officials say there is no evidence that Zika can be spread through coughing, sneezing, or routine touching.
Can someone have Zika and not know it?
Yes, 75 percent of people infected with Zika experience very minor or no symptoms. It can feel like a mild flu. The most common symptoms people report are: rash, fever, muscle ache, red eyes, tiredness, and feeling sore
How do you know if you have Zika?
The only way to know for certain if you have Zika is to get tested by a medical doctor.
Since we are currently in mosquito season, the CDC continues to encourage everyone, especially pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant, to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Remember to use an insect repellent registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use or repair screens on windows and doors, use air conditioning when available, and remove standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
The CDC suggests pregnant women see their doctor with any questions about their risk. If you have questions you may call the Zika hotline at 1-855-622-6735.
While there are there are still a lot of unknowns about the Zika virus, Options Medical Clinic wants you to know the facts. Your health and well-being are very important to us, and we believe that you deserve the opportunity to make the most informed decision about your pregnancy and your future. Visit us to learn more.