CDC Issues Travel Warning for Pregnant Women and Couples Trying to Conceive

Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist

CDC Issues Travel Warning for Pregnant Women and Couples Trying to Conceive

Just in time for spring break, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a travel notice for women who are pregnant or couples trying to conceive, warning them to avoid areas known to have the Zika virus.

These areas include favorite spring break destinations like Puerto Rico, the Caribbean,Mexico,Central America and South America.

Reason for CDC’s travel health notice

The CDC advises that pregnant women or women and men trying to conceive postpone travel to these destinations because the virus, spread through the bite of a Zika-infected Aeda egypties species mosquito, can transmit to the baby during pregnancy or delivery. The Zika virus can also be transmitted sexually through semen.

In Brazil, experts have linked an increase in microcephaly, or abnormal smallness of the head, with the Zika virus, although this connection is being questioned.

Babies who suffer from microcephaly may also deal with seizures, developmental delays, intellectual disability, hearing loss, trouble eating or swallowing, vision issues and movement or balance difficulty.

How Zika virus is contracted

The Zika virus is contracted through the bite of a Zika-infected Aedes aegypti species mosquito. These mosquitos tend to be especially aggressive during daytime hours, but may also bite at night. When the mosquito bites a person with the virus, the virus enters the mosquito’s body and can then be transferred to the next person the mosquito bites.

Although rare, if a pregnant woman or a woman planning to get pregnant in the near future contracts the virus, it is possible to pass the virus to her newborn, increasing the risk of serious birth defects.

According to the CDC, spread of the virus through blood transfusions have also been reported.

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Only one of five people infected with virus develops the disease, which may present with a combination of fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes. Some also experience muscle soreness or headache. These symptoms typically appear within a few days to a week of infection, last about week and are mild in nature. If you notice Zika virus symptoms, discuss them with your doctor, who may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses.

There is no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus, but it can be treated with rest, hydration and if needed, over-the-counter pain relievers approved by your doctor.

At this time, there is no known treatment available to stop the virus from travelling from a mother to her unborn baby.

Zika infection and future pregnancies

According to the CDC, women who have had a Zika infection usually clear the virus within a week, and there is no evidence to suggest that a prior infection will pose a risk to future pregnancies. It is likely, however, that the Zika virus remains in semen for longer than a week, so precautions must be taken to prevent the spread of Zika sexually.

Still going?

If travel to the affected areas is unavoidable, visit the CDC website to learn more about how to protect yourself from contracting the virus. Common sense measures like using mosquito repellant and not exposing your skin will help, but keep in mind there is currently no vaccine available.

References:

Petersen EE, Staples JE, Meaney-Delman, D, et al. Interim Guidelines for Pregnant Women During a Zika Virus Outbreak — United States, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:30–33. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6502e1.

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