Developments about the Zika virus have made headline after headline since early 2016, leading many Americans, especially pregnant women, to wonder if they should be worried about the virus and if it will affect their summer travel plans.
These are all legitimate concerns. The CDC maintains a thorough up-to-date guide to help stop the spread of misinformation and reassure people about the threat of Zika. Since information about the virus changes often, PGOMG encourages patients to stay updated via the CDC or to contact their provider with specific concerns.
What is Zika?
Zika is a virus that is most commonly transmitted by mosquito, causing Zika virus disease. Other methods of virus transmission include from mother to child during pregnancy, through sexual contact (men can give the virus to their partners), and blood transfusions. Certain areas of the world are experiencing outbreaks of the virus, but in the United States, cases of Zika have so far been limited to those who have traveled to countries with an outbreak or those who have had sexual contact with those who traveled to affected countries.
For the average person, the Zika virus is not serious. Symptoms are similar to a cold, including fever, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Even though the symptoms are mild, concerned patients are advised to visit a medical provider to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Do I need to be worried about the Zika virus?
Currently, only those who plan on traveling to areas with a Zika virus outbreak and those who are currently pregnant or planning for a pregnancy need to take precaution. Visit the CDC’s guide for information for specific groups to determine which groups should be concerned about contracting the virus.
It is important for pregnant women to stay informed about the Zika virus because it is linked to a serious birth defect called microcephaly. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive are strongly encouraged to avoid areas where the Zika virus is known to be, take steps to prevent mosquito bites, avoid sexual contact with someone who has lived in or traveled to an affected area, and speak with their provider about any additional questions or concerns. More information about the Zika virus comes out each day, so even if there is no cause to take precaution now, that may change as the summer progresses.