The Zika virus is a relatively new mosquito-borne condition getting worldwide attention because of a connection to serious birth defects and its rapid spread across the globe.
The Zika virus, transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, has now spread to 24 countries. The CDC is telling pregnant women not to travel to those areas and health officials in many of these countries are telling female citizens to avoid becoming pregnant, in some cases for up to two years.
There seems to be a strong connection between the virus and microcephaly, a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. This is associated with severe brain damage and often death.
The virus is transmitted when an Aedes mosquito bites a person with an active infection and then spreads the virus by biting other person. Those people carrier the infection during the time they are symptomatic. In most people, symptoms of the virus are mild: fever, headache, rash, pink eye. 80% of those infected never even know they have the disease. This is concerning for pregnant women who will consequently have a hard time avoiding contact with an infected person.
Zika has arrived in the United States, but only from travelers returning from infected areas. The concern is whether these cases could result in locally transmitted cases within the United States.
There is no treatment or vaccine against Zika. The only protection is to avoid travel to areas where it is prevalent. If you must travel to a country where Zika is present, use an EPA-approved repellent, wear long pants and long-sleeved, thick shirts and sleep in air-conditioned, screened rooms.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Statements on the Zika Virus
With all the news about the Zika virus, it is understandable that you might be concerned about it if you’re in your reproductive years. My best advice is to talk to your OB/GYN and/or infertility specialist about them and to become educated about your risks. Have any questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.