Women to Women is a gynecology clinic located in Hollywood, Florida, which means we are just minutes away from the Miami-Dade county areas of South Beach and Wynwood, where the Zika virus has been known to be spread by mosquitoes. If you are of child-bearing age, or are currently pregnant, it is hard not to be worried that a current, or eventual, pregnancy could suffer the effects of the Zika virus. In addition, the new evidence that Zika is also spread through sexual contact, unlike other viruses in its family, means there is cause to be concerned about Zika’s effects. However, we would counsel action over panic. Below is a review of the Zika virus and some actions you can take to protect yourself and an unborn child from Zika.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus genetically akin to dengue fever and West Nile virus.
It is carried and spread by the Aedes mosquito family which are common in tropical and subtropical zones, according to Wikipedia.
These mosquitoes have black and white stripes on their legs and are especially active in the early morning and evening hours.
SYMPTOMS AND EFFECTS OF THE ZIKA VIRUS
The symptoms of primary Zika infection are, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), quite mild and may include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis, as well as muscle pain and headache.
The symptoms last about a week and can be mistaken for any number of other illnesses.
The secondary effects of a Zika infection manifest in a child that is exposed to Zika during gestation.
These children are born with birth defects, among which are profound cases of microcephaly. “Micro” means small and “cephaly” means related to the brain. So, babies exposed to the Zika Virus are born with a minimal amount of brain tissue, with only the brainstem intact.
PRECAUTIONS FOR CURRENTLY PREGNANT WOMEN
If you are currently pregnant, the CDC recommends that you not travel to areas known to be experiencing the spread of Zika.
Use condoms, even while pregnant, if your partner has traveled to Zika infested areas. The Zika virus has been detected in the semen of men who have contracted Zika up to two weeks (and possibly ten weeks) after symptoms occur.
Learn the symptoms of Zika and monitor yourself and your partner for any signs of Zika.
Make sure your obstetrician is monitoring you for ZIka and testing you if you have traveled to Zika areas.
Use mosquito repellent and sleep with a mosquito net over your bed.
NON-PREGNANT WOMEN, BUT OF CHILDBEARING AGE
The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for the Zika virus recommend that if you or your partner have traveled to a known Zika area, that pregnancy be delayed when possible.
After travel to a Zika area, the recommended delay period is eight weeks if the person did not suffer any symptoms, and up to 6 months if the traveler(s) experienced Zika symptoms or tested positive for Zika.
Abstinence or adequate birth control methods are recommended.
Everyone should also take precautions to keep mosquito populations down. This means making sure there is no standing water around your home, garden or office building. Mosquitos don’t need much water at all to breed and multiply so walk around and dump out water after every rain, and even after every irrigation watering.
If you live in this area, have traveled to an area affected by the Zika virus, or feel the need to use caution and you want to delay a pregnancy, call Women to Women for an appointment with our gynecologists. We speak Russian and Spanish.