Zika Virus. Should I Be Worried?

The Zika Virus is a virus transmitted through mosquitoes which can cause fever, rash, joint pain and pink eye. In most people, this illness is self-limiting with a duration of about one week and without long term consequences in most cases. 80% of infected people have no symptoms. Unfortunately, there have been complications with pregnant women infected with the Zika Virus where their unborn child may have microcephaly (small head).

Pregnant women have no additional risk of contracting the illness but may get infected during any trimester. Testing is unnecessary if there was no recent travel to affected areas. However, if a pregnant woman has traveled to an area of Zika transmission within 2-weeks, fetal ultrasound testing is still recommended to detect any fetal abnormalities. If the ultrasound is abnormal, an amniocentesis may be needed. Currently, there are no treatments or vaccines for this virus and pregnant women who have symptoms should be tested and referred to a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist for evaluation of their fetus.

The CDC has issued Zika Virus travel notices for pregnant women. It is recommended that pregnant women postpone travel to areas with Zika Virus transmission, namely Central/South America and the Caribbean. If travel cannot be avoided, it is recommended to use precautions when traveling. These precautions include wearing loose, long sleeve shirts and pants, using mosquito repellent and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

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