The chances are high that you have heard a few of the alarming stories about the Zika virus. While the virus itself delivers relatively harmless symptoms (more on this later), it is extremely dangerous for pregnant women who can transmit the virus to her fetus, which endangers the fetus with devastating neurological symptoms, such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. All pregnant women, especially ones undergoing infertility treatment and expecting pregnancy, need to carefully protect against mosquito bites in order to significantly decrease odds of contracting the Zika virus.
What Is The Zika Virus, and How Can I Get It?
The Zika virus is an infection caused by a mosquito bite or by sexual transmission. Its history dates back to the late 1940s and is named after its founding location, Uganda’s Zika Forest.
Throughout the decades, there have been a little more than one dozen cases of Zika infection reported, most of which were in Africa, South Asia, and the Pacific Islands. However, much like the latest YouTube hit, this infection has gone viral with more than 1,000,000 cases reported during the past year in Brazil alone.
It is transmitting quickly and is moving throughout the western hemisphere.
The Zika virus has reached the United States. Take caution to specifically protect against mosquito bites and the Zika virus.
What Are The Symptoms?
The common symptoms of the Zika virus include a rash, a fever, joint pain, and red eyes (conjunctivitis); these typically last a few days to a week. Many people do not visit the hospital because these symptoms are mild. However, there have been cases of Zika virus that have gone unnoticed since the symptoms are common to many other diseases or infections. Be sure to stay in touch with your doctor if you have a mosquito bite and are experiencing these symptoms or if you are pregnant and have mosquito bites.
How Does It Affect A Fetus Or Newborn?
The alarming stories revolve around pregnant women who contract the virus or women who are of childbearing age and are expecting to get pregnant in the very near future.
The Zika virus can cause microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome among other neurological issues.
Microcephaly causes the newborn to have an abnormally small head, which prevents the brain from developing completely.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is a horrifying neurological condition in which the nerves are attacked by the immune system. While this is a rare condition of contracting the Zika virus, it is possible.
Women who are considering an infertility treatment should consult with Dr. Kofinas as well as her primary physician in order to ensure safety of becoming pregnant. If you live in an area that has a known Zika virus infection, visit your physician because two tests can be administered throughout pregnancy.
Fortunately, the Zika virus is one that cannot be contracted more than once and should not affect a fetus once the virus has cleared through the body.
How To Protect Yourself
Protecting against the Zika virus is as simple as preventing mosquito bites. This may include refraining from traveling to tropical locations that have been reported with high concentrations of the Zika virus. Moreover, wear long shirts and long pants to reduce skin exposure. Wear an EPA-registered insect repellant that is safe for pregnancy.
The Zika virus gets a lot of attention in the media today. Take care to protect yourself, especially if you are pregnant or undergoing infertility treatment to gain pregnancy. We want you to have a happy, healthy pregnancy and newborn.