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What Parents Need to Know about Zika Virus!

Hey Loves! I hope everyone is having a great week! As the number of confirmed cases of Zika virus has risen, so does the the amount of concerned telephone calls and texts from friends and family. Living and working in South Florida, the concerns are more intense, as there are now 16 confirmed cases of Zika virus in Florida.  More and more parents are coming to the emergency room concerned that their child has been infected with the virus and questioning the health of their pregnant family members. What should we be concerned about? Is it only dangerous for pregnant woman? Today we are going to answer the most common questions I am getting from parents.  So let’s get started.

What is Zika? This is a virus transmitted by an infected mosquito of the Aedes aegypti specie. Zika is a virus in the same family as yellow fever, West Nile, chikungunya, and dengue. This is not a new virus. There have been previous outbreaks reported in Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Southeast Asia.

How exactly is Zika virus transmitted? Can I get it from another person who is sick with the virus? The virus is not typically transmitted person to person. Although, the CDC has confirmed the first case of sexually transmitted Zika, it is most commonly transmitted by an infected mosquito. If a Aedes aegypti mosquito bites a person infected with the virus, the mosquito becomes a carrier and is able to infect other people that the mosquito comes in contact with.

What are the symptoms? The symptoms of the virus are relatively mild. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). A person with this virus might also experience headache or muscle ache. The symptoms typically last from 2 to 7 days.

What is Guillain-Barre and is there a link to Zika Virus? Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own nervous system, causing muscle weakness and possible paralysis. Most patents that suffer from GBS have a full recovery, although there have been cases of permanent nerve damage. There is a reported link between Zika virus and GBS, but the link does not necessarily indicate a cause and effect.  More research is being done to evaluate the link between GBS and Zika.

Why is Zika Virus so dangerous for pregnant women? The Zika virus can be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly being caused by Zika, and also links to poor health and/or defects in babies that were infected by this virus.

I just traveled to a country with Zika virus or have been infected by Zika, should I wait to get pregnant? The Zika virus usually remains in the blood for about a week. The virus will not affect a baby that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood.

I am pregnant and recently traveled to an area the has Zika virus, should I get tested? If you recently traveled to an area that has confirmed cases of Zika virus and develop symptoms of fever, rash, joint pain, and/or conjunctivitis, you should call your health care provider immediately.

I am pregnant but I don’t live in an area that has confirmed Zika virus, do I need to worry about my baby?  Yes.  Keep up on the recent news of the outbreak to be sure that the Zika virus has not reached your area.  Also pay attention to the CDC travel warnings.  I would strictly avoid traveling to areas with an active infestation.

I am pregnant and live in an area with confirmed Zika virus or have to travel to an area with Zika virus, what can I do to protect myself? There is no vaccine against Zika virus so your best protection is to avoid being bit by a mosquito. Below are some ways to protect yourself.  You can also visit the CDC’s website for more tips on prevention.

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
  • Make sure to wear long pants and shirts especially during the day. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is extremely aggressive and tends to bite more during the day.
  • Stay in an air conditioned space during the day with protective screens and windows.

Is bug repellant safe if I am pregnant, nursing, or have a newborn? Yes. It is safe if you are pregnant or nursing. However, do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age. Dress them in long sleeves and cover your stroller or bassinet with a mosquito net.

I hope this helps you with your journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us! See you next Wednesday.

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