Practicing Advisory: The Zika Virus
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As amazing and fulfilling as carrying a child is, there are a ton of precautions that pregnant women must take today – from the types of foods they are forbidden to eat to the kinds of medicines they must not take. While these daily safeguards can sometimes be bothersome, being extra aware and strict regarding what you consume and put around your body is extremely critical during pregnancy. Recently, avoiding the Zika virus has become one of those precautions a pregnant woman must take – especially as more cases of the virus are being reported.
Zika Virus, Defined
Spread through mosquito bites, the Zika virus causes an illness characterized by mild symptoms that typically last from a few days to a week. Indicators that a person has come down with Zika virus can include a fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes – but in some cases, there have been no reported symptoms at all. The virus is commonly linked to ailments like the Yellow Fever and the West Nile virus. The W.H.O. (World Health Organization) has estimated that four million people may be affected by the end of 2016.
Negative Effects On Pregnancy
More pressing and recent concern is Zika virus’ affect on pregnant women, as it has been linked to their children being born with multiple birth defects. While there has been no public record of scientific research to prove it, there has definitely been a strong increase in the number of children being born with microcephaly in certain affected regions plagued with the virus. For this reason, the W.H.O. has discussed establishing such research to officially prove the link between infected pregnant women and their babies’ problematic issues. Microcephaly is a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads, and, in a majority of cases, damaged brains. These children may go on to experience issues with their intellectual range, delays in their development and even hearing loss.
Destinations To Avoid
In January 2016, American health officials recommended that pregnant women
should not travel to the places affected by Zika virus. It has dramatically spread throughout Latin America, and currently affects more than 20 countries. The officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise pregnant women not to travel to these countries – specifically in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the outbreak is growing. There is an updated list on the CDC website (www.cdc.gov).
Preventative Methods To Take
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) broadcasted an alert when the first case of Zika virus infection occurred in Brazil in May 2015, even though the virus has been seen as early as 1947. Since then, the W.H.O. recently declared the Zika virus a global health emergency. While there are currently no vaccinations or medicines to prevent Zika virus, there are still things pregnant women can and should do to avoid becoming infected.
It is advised that pregnant women should avoid traveling to the infected countries altogether, but if she has to – or, if she is currently located there – she should dodge mosquito bites at all costs. Ways to do so include covering any bare skin with long sleeves and pants, using EPA-registered insect repellents (with frequent re-application), and using permethrin-treated clothing gear (which kills or repels insects).
As the Zika virus spreads to more countries and affects more people, pregnant women should especially take precaution and be aware of where and how the infection spreads. Additionally, women who are attempting to become pregnant through fertility treatments should be just as careful.
As day-to-day pregnancy precautions – and even the Zika virus threat – can be a bit unsettling for women who are looking to become pregnant, the NYU Langone Reproductive Specialists of New York can certainly put your worries to rest and help you embark on a positive journey to becoming a mother. File an appointment request to meet with a dedicated fertility specialist in New York today.