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Zika Virus

The following is important information related to the Zika virus and precautions for pregnant women.

The Zika virus is a mosquito borne flavi virus that is transmitted by the Aedes species mosquito. About one in five people infected with the Zika virus will become ill. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis. Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.

Zika is believed capable of infecting unborn fetuses and causing babies to be born with a condition called microcephaly. Babies with microcephaly have small heads and under-developed brains, and likely face long-term disability.

There is a risk for pregnant women traveling to areas in Central and South America (Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, Venezuela), where intense outbreaks are in progress. It is likely that this outbreak will spread throughout all of Central and South America.

Aedes mosquitoes are present in the Southern United States. However, there have been no reports of local spread of this virus and transmission of other viruses that are carried by the Aedes mosquito in the United States.

As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising pregnant American women to consider postponing travel to areas affected by outbreaks. It's further advising women who plan to become pregnant to consult their doctor before traveling there and to strictly follow steps for avoiding mosquito bites.

Currently the CDC recommends:

  1. Pregnant women in any stage of pregnancy not travel to Zika where an outbreak is in progress.
  2. Pregnant women who must travel these areas should follow full mosquito precautions. The Aedes mosquito bites during the daytime. Therefore, it is most important to follow these precautions during the daytime (from dawn until dusk).
    • Wear pants that cover legs to ankles
    • Wear sleeves that cover arms to wrists
    • Use mosquito repellent with DEET.
    • Using permethrin (insecticide) treated clothing
    • Sleeping in screened in or air-conditioned room
  3. All pregnant women who have traveled to one of the effected countries should inform their physicians.
    Symptoms of the Zika virus:
    • fever
    • rash
    • joint pain
    • conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Please contact your obstetrician if you have questions.