Don’t cancel that safari just yet! The media has a way of causing wide spread pandemonium. Remember Ebola? Everyone is talking about the Zika virus right now, and this topic is particularly important for pregnant women currently, so here are a few take home points I thought everyone should know about it:
- Zika virus is transmitted mainly by mosquitos; it can also be transmitted from male to female during intercourse as it is present in semen after infection for an unknown amount of time. It was first discovered in the 1940s and has been circulating in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands for years. It has recently become more of a hot topic due to the link to birth defects and miscarriages when pregnant women are infected with the virus, and it’s movement is being monitored more closely now by the CDC
- There have been no Zika viral infections reported as occurring from being bitten by a mosquito here in the continental United States, although there have been cases reported in several states from citizens who have traveled outside of the country to affected areas and come back with the virus
- The symptoms of Zika viral infection usually include fevers, rash, joint pain and red eyes, and typically occur several days to a week after infection
- It is typically a very mild illness that we wouldn’t even test for in most cases; The majority of people don’t require hospitalization or even a doctor visit for this infection
- We care right now because there has been a link made between Zika viral infection in pregnancy and miscarriage and microcephaly- underdevelopment of an infant’s brain usually due to toxic exposure as a fetus, with developmental delays as well
- There is no vaccine currently available to prevent Zika virus infection
- If you do plan to travel to an area affected by Zika virus (complete list available at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html ) make sure you use measures to prevent mosquito bites and if you develop any of the symptoms of Zika infection and are pregnant, seek medical attention right away.