Zika Virus: What You Need to Know Right Now

zika.pngWith news of the Zika virus spreading faster than the virus itself, there is a great deal of concern -- and even panic -- about what to do, especially as it pertains to pregnant families. While we don't have all of the facts just yet, we want to share information that is available, some of which may help you plan and make decisions regarding your health care and pregnancy. 

  • The Zika virus is spread by a specific kind of mosquito called the Aedes aegypti mosquito. 
  • The Zika virus causes symptoms that can mirror the common flu (fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, headache, chills, vomiting), and can last several days to a week. Hospitalization is not common and death is rare. 
  • Not everyone who is infected with the Zika virus will become ill and develop the virus.
  • The only way to confirm infection by the Zika virus is through a blood test.
  • The Zika virus currently is currently active in (cases are being reported in) Cape Verde, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Samoa, and South America (source: CDC).
  • The Zika virus is not yet live in the United States, but the World Health Organization reports that it is likely to be active across nearly all of the Americas (except for Canada and Chile). 
  • The Zika virus is becoming increasingly linked to -- but not yet proven as the cause of -- a rare but serious birth defect called microcephaly, in which an infant's brain is significantly underdeveloped and causes complications and death. More studies are being planned to better understand the risks of Zika virus during pregnancy. 
  • Pregnant women are advised to avoid travel in the following locations Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname, and Venezuela. This list is due to change. For the most current travel advisory list, check the Centers for Disease Control website
  • There is currently no treatment (though typically none other than rest is needed to treat the symptoms) and no vaccine for the Zika virus. Researchers and drug companies are currently working on developing a vaccine. 
  • The best (and only) prevention for Zika is to avoid mosquito bites. Suggestions for avoiding bites include using mosquito repellant, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying indoors.

For the most up-to-date information on the Zika virus, check the CDC and World Health Organization websites. 

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Most Recent Zika Information

February 11, 2016 01:25 AM by Shivani Kamal

 With some more up to date information on Zika Virus, according to Dr Constancia Ayres, the lead researcher into Zika-carrying mosquitoes at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Recife:

The Zika virus symtoms also include rare neurological affects and out of the 400,000 to 1.5 million cases reported, only three or four of those cases showed neurological affects. In addition, a very serious effect on infants born to mothers who have contracted Zika virus is microcephaly. This condition results in small or abnormal head size of the baby which can lead to deformed brain shape or development. There are still many unanswered questions to how infants with microcephaly will develop both physically and mentally. Previous cases have stated some infants born with this condition have trouble drinking milk from their mothers due to both physical abnomalities and underdeveloped brains. 

The first reported case of the virus contracted within the United States was sexually transmitted. Although scientists are still researching this way as valid transmission, people should be cautious of sexual interactions with those who have recently traveled or been in areas of high infection rates.

In the meantime, while there is no cure, safety and precautions should be implemented. Avoid traveling to areas with high infection rates, specifically Brazil and areas close to that. Use of mosquito repellent and wearing clothing that covers body can help limit bites from mosquitos that transmit the virus. In addition, do not store stagnant water as they are common insect breeding sites. 

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