With the World Health Organization declaring Zika virus a global public health emergency, here’s what everyone—especially pregnant women—should know about this virus and how to prevent its spread. Zika virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes commonly found in Africa, Southeast Asia and North and South America.
There have been cases of Zika reported in travelers returning from areas with outbreaks here in the U.S., but there is no evidence yet that mosquitoes in the U.S. are carrying the virus.
About 1 in 5 people infected with the virus become sick, though it’s typically a mild illness lasting several days to a week. Symptoms may include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Conjunctivitis (“pinkeye”)
Zika in Pregnant Women
The biggest concern about Zika is its suspected link to microcephaly in the babies of mothers infected with the virus while pregnant. Microcephaly is a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head, intellectual delays, vision and hearing problems and other health issues.
As research into a possible link continues, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women postpone travel to areas where Zika virus outbreaks have occurred.
Protecting Yourself from Zika
Public health officials are concerned that Zika could spread in the U.S. if people infected with the virus while traveling are bitten by mosquitoes here after they return. To protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Wear long sleeves and pants outdoors. Use an EPA-approved insect repellent.
- Avoid outdoor areas of standing water.
- People infected with Zika should protect themselves from mosquito bites in the first few days of the illness, to prevent local transmission of the virus.
Treatment for Zika
Currently, there is no vaccine for Zika and no specific medicine to treat it. See your healthcare provider if you have traveled to an area with an outbreak, are pregnant, and if you experience Zika symptoms. You may need to be tested for the virus.
- Treat your symptoms with plenty of rest and fluids (to prevent dehydration).
- Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) as directed to alleviate fever or pain.
- DO NOT take aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
For more information visit: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html