Update May 16, 2016:
Update April 14, 2016:
The CDC announced that the Zika virus is linked to the birth defects that they saw a correlation with before.
Click the picture for the New York Times article source:
Posted March 29, 2016:
Right now, a very real concern for anyone with a baby in their future is the Zika virus. There are many sources of information out there, and it gets overwhelming and scary at times. I’m an outdoorsy person, and at the time I’m writing this, I’m 16 weeks pregnant and I’m worried about spending time outside during the summer. Especially since Northern VA is about as mosquito ridden as the Amazon it seems. It’s hard to stay sane amidst all the changing and sometimes contradictory information. So I took the information that made me feel better and consolidated it:
Researchers know that pregnant women pass the Zika virus on to their fetuses if they are infected when they are pregnant. They know that there is a link between Zika and microcephaly, impaired growth, and eye, hearing, and brain deficits. They do not know at what point in the pregnancy the fetus is most vulnerable or if Zika specifically can be blamed. Researchers are working on all this now.
We do know that if a woman has been infected by Zika before, and the virus has left the blood (which takes a few weeks), there is no risk to future pregnancies. And they think the reason why there are so few cases of Zika based fatal impairments in countries such as Uganda where it was first identified, is because once you’ve been infected, it’s very unlikely you will get sick a second time. Like the chicken pox. But by no means does this mean you should go get sick just so you won’t get it later.
Also, we know that Zika is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. There are two types, one lives in tropical regions and the only place it lives in the United States is southern FL. The second type is commonly called the Asian Tiger Mosquito and has been found as north as Chicago and New York. They both can carry and transmit the Zika virus but have not been found carrying the virus yet in the US. Here is what they look like:
But, because of all the uncertainty, and the fact that the Aedes mosquito is not just tropical, it’s a “better safe than sorry” scenario.
So protect yourself:
- Wear EPA-Registered bug repellant. These have been approved for use by pregnant and breastfeeding women: EPA-Registered bug repellants
- Always spray the bug repellant OVER your sunscreen and reapply both as directed.
- If you’re going on your babymoon to one of the countries identified as having locally acquired Zika transmission, wait until you’re sure you are not infected before trying to conceive.
- If you are pregnant, hold off on that vacation or save it for your second babymoon instead.
- Also, be aware that Zika can be sexually transmitted by the male partner, and the virus can be transmitted for a few days before symptoms present and a few days after they disappear.
- Before you travel, check the CDC for the latest travel advisories: Zika Travel Information
- So far, there have been no locally-acquired Zika transmissions in any of the 50 states; however, there have been in the US territories.
- The CDC is updating frequently with all the information they learn and researchers are working very hard at providing more definite answers to these uncertainties. I know I’ll be keeping up to date on any new developments. Their resources are all available here.
Is this a concern for anyone else? Leave a comment below.