Zika Virus Q&A: 4 Facts for Pregnant Women and Families

The news of Zika virus spreading is pretty scary, particularly if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive (TTC). If you’re expecting, what steps do you need to take to protect yourself and your baby? Can you still take a babymoon, and where is it safe to travel? Where is Zika virus spreading locally in the U.S.? Don’t panic; read on for facts that can help answer your questions, and keep you and your family safe, whether you’re pregnant or not.

by  Erin Dower

What Is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is a disease spread to people primarily through the bite of an Aedus species mosquito (usually theAedus aegypti mosquito, pictured here). The virus can also be transmitted through sex, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says insect bites are the primary source.

Zika virus is not serious or life-threatening for the general population, usually causing minor symptoms that last for a week or less, including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The virus tends to be so mild that most symptoms go unnoticed and rarely require hospitalization.

However, the CDC has confirmed that contracting Zika virus during pregnancy poses a serious risk of birth defects, including microcephaly (smaller than normal head size), eye defects, hearing impairment, and other severe fetal brain defects.

There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine for Zika virus. Researchers are working on developing a vaccine, but the World Health Organization has said trials for a vaccine are unlikely to begin until 2018. Meanwhile, the CDC continues to research the virus and educate the public about preventing its spread.

 

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