The Zika virus may not receive the same amount of news coverage as it did this time last year, but this does not mean it can be ignored. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the virus remains a serious concern for pregnant women, especially those who travel to countries where outbreaks occurred and/or those in a relationship with someone who has traveled to said locations.
For fertility patients, the Zika virus remains a concern, and Fertility Solutions wants to help educate patients on how they can protect themselves while undergoing treatment.
What is the Zika virus?
Transmitted via a mosquito bite and through unprotected sexual activity, the Zika virus is not a serious issue for most adults. In fact, many people can have the virus without knowing it because symptoms are mild and similar to a cold. These symptoms are usually limited to joint pain, fever, chills, fatigue, sweating, red eyes, headache, rash and/or vomiting, which many assume can be treated effectively at home within a few days. However, if you suspect you may have the Zika virus, you need to visit a medical provider for proper testing and diagnosis. There is no vaccine for the virus, and treatment is usually simple rest, hydration and over-the-counter pain relief medication.
If the symptoms are so mild, why is the Zika virus such a concern for pregnant women?
Pregnant women need to be especially careful to avoid the Zika virus because it is linked to serious birth defects. One prominent birth defect associated with Zika is microcephaly, when a baby’s head is smaller than anticipated. Severe cases of microcephaly can stunt brain development during pregnancy.
Who is most at risk now?
News about the Zika virus can change day by day. Currently, those most at risk include individuals who have traveled to areas where the CDC has issued a travel notice or those in a sexual relationship with someone who has traveled to those areas. So far, in 2017, there have been approximately 125 cases of reported Zika virus in the United States, and the clear majority were from patients who had traveled to areas of known Zika risk.
What can I do to protect myself from the Zika virus?
• Avoid travel to Zika-prone areas
• Use a proper protection (condom) if your sexual partner has recently traveled to a Zika-prone area
• Avoid mosquito bites by wearing clothing that covers arms and legs
• Stay indoors when possible
• Use insect repellants that are safe for pregnant women
• Avoid areas with standing water, as it attracts mosquitos
In the U.S., the virus is not the rampant outbreak that many South American countries have faced in the past year, but this does not mean it should not be a concern for those currently pregnant or those trying to conceive. Contact Fertility Solutions with any questions or concerns you have about the Zika virus this summer.