Summertime is in full swing, and that means warm weather, spending time outdoors and taking family vacations. If you’ll be traveling while pregnant—especially to warm, tropical areas— you need to make sure you’re informed about the risk of Zika.
For most people, Zika is relatively harmless. Only about one in every five people infected experience symptoms. Symptoms are often flu-like and include mild fever, rash, joint or muscle pain, headache and red eyes. A blood test performed can detect if the symptoms are caused by Zika or a similar mosquito-transmitted disease.
The most severe danger that Zika poses is for pregnant women. The virus has been shown to cause severe birth defects such as microcephaly, with cases occurring in nearly 30 countries. Microcephaly is a condition where the baby’s head is much smaller than that of a healthy child. The brain may also be smaller and not develop properly. Your Jacksonville Beach OBGYN can further explain the risk of birth defects from Zika.
Fortunately, Zika cases are declining in the Americas. In Brazil, the center of the recent epidemic, cases dropped by 95% between January and April of 2017 as compared to the same time period in 2016. Last year, the country saw eight deaths from Zika. This year, there have not yet been any cases reported.
In Florida, there were 218 non-travel related cases of Zika reported last year. As of June of this year, none have been reported. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have lifted travel warnings that were in place for pregnant women traveling to southern Florida.
This is all promising news, but as any doctor at North Florida OBGYN of Jacksonville Beach will tell you, Zika is still a serious concern for pregnant women traveling to certain areas. It’s important to protect yourself and your unborn baby from the risk of contracting Zika. Here are some steps you can take to avoid this virus:
- Do not travel to any areas where Zika transmissions have been reported.
- Check the CDC’s website for specific cities and countries that have recently been affected by Zika before traveling.
- Follow steps to prevent mosquito bites: use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone. When used as directed, EPA-registered repellents are shown to be safe and effective for pregnant and nursing women.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when mosquitos are active.
- If you do travel to an area where Zika is present, get tested whether or not you experience any symptoms. It’s critical that your physician know as soon as possible if you have the virus.
- Zika can be sexually transmitted, so it’s important that your partner follows the same precautions to also protect against the virus.
If you are looking for a Jacksonville Beach OBGYN or to get more information on pregnancy and delivery, visit our blog or call us today at 904-247-5514!