Pregnancy and the Zika Virus – What you need to know
The Zika virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, specifically the Aedes species. It can also be transmitted sexually from a person who has Zika to his or her sexual partners, even if the person does not have symptoms. The risk of Zika is of greatest concern for pregnant women as it can cause serious birth defects including microcephaly, a sign of incomplete brain development.
Pregnant women and their partners should protect themselves throughout their pregnancy. This includes not having sex during pregnancy or using condoms every time you have sex. Pregnant women and their partners should avoid travel to areas with Zika virus and prevent mosquito bites by wearing EPA approved insect repellent such as Picaridin or DEET. We also recommend wearing protective clothing including loose fitting pants, long sleeve shirts, etc. Clothing can be treated with permethrin for additional prevention.
If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, the CDC recommends waiting 8 weeks after Zika exposure or symptoms before a female has sex without a condom. Men should wait 6 months if they have experienced symptoms and 8 weeks if exposed without symptoms. As of September 23, 2016 there have been 23 cases in Hillsborough County, 16 in Pinellas County, and 8 in Pasco County. All of these have been travel related.
Many people infected with Zika virus will not have symptoms or they may be mild. Common symptoms include fever, rash, muscle pain, headache, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). If you experience these symptoms, have traveled to an area with Zika virus, or are concerned you may have been exposed via sexual transmission, talk with your healthcare provider about testing. A blood or urine test can confirm Zika infection. Feel free to give us a call with any questions – 727-530-0920.