Zika and Pregnancy: What You Need To Know Before Travel Season

April 10, 2017

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention there have been 1,455 cases in the United States and the District of Columbia where there has been laboratory evidence of possible Zika Virus Infection confirmed as of Feb. 22, 2017.

“Many may not consider the possibility of contracting Zika. It still seems like a very ‘foreign’ virus, but it’s a very real thing and can easily be caught during this upcoming travel season. If you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant in the near future, the best protection is going to be to avoid the areas where Zika is present and also prevent mosquito bites,” said David Kirk, MD, Haywood Women’s Medical Center.

Kirk mentions, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, this is what we know thus far about the virus:

  • Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
  • Zika infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
  • Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.
  • Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners.

It also is crucial to educate yourself on the symptoms, as they are mild and many may not even realize they have the virus. Four in five people who acquire Zika infection may have no symptoms.  These mild symptoms can include red eyes, aching joints, rash or fever.  A blood or urine test can confirm Zika infection diagnosis.

“If you do plan to travel make sure you are taking precautionary measures. Wear long sleeve clothing, use insect repellant, stay indoors when you can, and if traveling with a baby or child protect them by covering their cribs, strollers, etc. with mosquito netting and dress them in clothes that protect their skin from bites,” said Robin Matthews, MD, Haywood Women’s Medical Center.

CDC has issued a travel notice (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to areas where Zika virus is spreading. For a current list of places with Zika outbreaks, see CDC’s Travel Health Notices: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html

For more information or questions, call Haywood Women's Medical Center at 828.452.5042 or visit HaywoodWomensCare.com