What Women Should Know About the Zika Virus


The Zika virus is a virus spread to humans from mosquitoes that are infected and may be sexually transmitted from a man to a woman. The virus has been documented in twelve countries, mostly in South and Central America, but there have been many cases here in the United States. Symptoms of Zika virus include fever, headache, joint pain, conjunctivitis (an eye infection and a rash that can be confirmed by a blood or urine test.) There are many questions surrounding how prevalent this virus will be in the United States and what kind of risks are posed to the population, especially to pregnant women and their unborn baby.

Zika virus can be spread can be spread from a mother to an unborn baby and has been linked to birth defects, primarily microcephaly, but it can also affect the placenta causing placental insufficiency. Microcephaly is a condition in which the baby’s head is much smaller than it should be and it can cause birth defects. The birth defects could be mild to severe and depend on the degree of microcephaly, but symptoms can include seizures, vision or hearing loss, developmental delays or intellectual delays. Experts think that the Zika virus is harmful to a baby during all stages of gestation, even in the third trimester if there is placental insufficiency. Pregnant woman who have traveled to countries with Zika virus outbreaks should see their doctor on return even if they show no symptoms. If you are trying to get pregnant you should avoid travel to these countries, but if you must go follow the CDC’s guidelines for travel.

Experts do not expect a huge outbreak of the Zika virus in the United States, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t know what to look for and what to do if you are concerned about having contracted the virus. Studies show that the virus only is active in the body for a short period of time so you should call your doctor at The Woman’s Clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, at the first sign of concern for testing. There does not seem to be any risk for future pregnancies if you have contracted the virus previously and are now wanting to get pregnant, but you should talk with your doctor about your history.

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