What Pregnant Women Should Know About Zika

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The Zika virus has erupted out of Brazil and came into recognition when infected pregnant women were giving birth to babies with brain defects. Since October 2015, more than 3000 babies have been born with a brain defect called microcephaly. The virus is now tearing through South and Central America and the Caribbean, and it’s only a matter of time before the virus spreads to the United States.

The virus spreads when a mosquito feeds on an infected person and then transmits the virus when it feeds on another person. On the surface, the virus is not spreadable through human contact, but in some incidences it can be spread through sexual intercourse.

Why Pregnant Women Are At Risk
Pregnant women are at high risk because the virus doesn’t affect their health as much as it affects their baby’s health. Women who get infected with this virus during pregnancy have babies with a rare birth defect. This defect called, microcephaly, stunts the growth of the baby’s brain. For this reason, all pregnant women are cautioned to not travel to any countries that are at risk of this virus.

What is Microcephaly?
When a baby is born with microcephaly, their head is a lot smaller in comparison to babies of the same sex and age. Their brains are not fully developed. This can cause the baby to suffer seizures, hearing loss, vision problems, stunted growth, delay in development of speech and physical activity, feeding problems and inability to maintain balance when sitting or standing. In a nutshell, the baby will grow up to be disabled in every way, which makes this virus almost deadly.

Symptoms of Zika Virus
If you are experiencing fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain or red eyes after having travelled to a country that was at risk of the virus, visit your doctor right away. A simple blood test can reveal if it’s the Zika virus or not.

How to Protect Yourself
Women who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding should use insect repellants. However, make sure the active ingredients present in the product are approved by a healthcare professional. As of now, it’s unknown whether a woman who is affected by the Zika virus right now would experience problems in her future pregnancies. It is also unknown if the Zika virus present in the breast milk is harmful for the baby or not. In any case, extreme precaution is advised.