Zika – What You Need to Know About It in 2017

Pregnancy, Women's Health Steward Health Care

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Last year was marked by an intense amount of concern for the growing threat of the Zika virus and its impact on pregnant women and babies. This year the threat remains elevated, and, despite increased public awareness, it still is important to reinforce that physicians still do not have a vaccine to prevent or medication to treat the virus.

As a reminder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention summarize that:

  • The Zika virus can be passed from pregnant woman to her fetus.
  • Infection from the Zika virus during pregnancy can lead to a birth defect called microcephaly, or other several fetal brain defects.
  • Zika is primarily spread through mosquitoes. Also, it can be transmitted through sex without a condom with someone infected by Zika, even if they do not show symptoms of Zika.

Warnings for pregnant women remain similar to last year with a focus on those who may have need to travel to areas in which the virus has been found. Doctors within the Steward Health Care network counsel their patients according to the CDC guidelines, which are:

  • Pregnant women should consider postponing travel to cautionary areas internationally and in the U.S. (currently Brownsville, Texas and previously Miami-Dade County, Florida) (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika)
  • If you live in/travel to an area with risk of Zika, the CDC recommends talking to your doctor or other health care provider first, and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites. The CDC also recommends practicing safe sex with a condom.
  • After travel, the CDC recommends talking to a doctor or health care provider, even if you don’t feel sick; taking steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks after returning; and taking steps to prevent passing of Zika through sex by using condoms start to finish every time you have sex, or by not having sex.

Please talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or trying to conceive before traveling. Our goal is to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy for both you and your unborn baby.