Over the last week we have received many calls about the Zika virus at Partners in Women’s Health. Currently there is limited information about Zika as this is a new and emerging threat to pregnant patients. However, we would like to provide you with some basic information about the virus.
Zika is in the family of flavaviruses. It is similar to Dengue Fever and West Nile Virus and is transmitted through mosquito bites. If contracted, most adults will have no symptoms. If they do get symptoms it will generally be a mild illness which consists of arthralgias fever, arthralgias (aches), rash and conjunctivitis (reddening of eye). Currently, upper respiratory infection symptoms including cough and cold, which are common to many viruses, are not a symptom for Zika.
Although most adults will not be affected and are very unlikely to get a serious illness, there have been some reports of babies born to mothers who had Zika virus in Brazil of having microcephaly (small head). There are currently further investigations going on and more studies are needed, but obviously in light of these reports, we want to avoid pregnant patients from contracting Zika.
The cases of Zika virus reported in Florida are from people who had contracted Zika virus while traveling and then returned home.
Currently, Zika has been reported to be in the Carribbean, as well as Central America and South America. The CDC has recommended that pregnant patients do not to travel to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguary, Suriname, Venezuela and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
If you do have to travel to these countries, wearing long sleeves, utilizing mosquito repellant and staying indoors is recommended.
If you have travelled to one of the above mentioned countries or territories and come down with the symptoms as described above, contact your healthcare provider.
-Dr. Anthony Shaya, MD, MPH, FACOG