Zika Update 2017

Pregistry is a member of the Zika Coalition, which is made up of organizations committed to the health and wellbeing of our nation’s children and families.

Zika Update

Zika was a big topic this time last year. With the presidential election and the turbulence of the early days of the new president, it has been moved off the front pages. However, Zika is still with us and summer is coming, which could mean more mosquitos and more cases. I wrote a few blogs on Zika and pregnancy last year. Now is a good time for an update and a refresher on the basics.

The Basics

Zika is a viral infection spread by mosquitos and through unprotected sex. If you have Zika while pregnant, you can spread it to your developing baby. A developing baby exposed to Zika is at significant risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, serious birth defects, and other growth and development abnormalities.

  • The Zika outbreak was first discovered in 2015.
  • Zika can cause red eyes, fever, joint pains, headache, and rash. You can also have Zika without showing any symptoms.
  • If you are not pregnant, Zika is not a very serious problem. It goes away without treatment. Some people may have a condition of muscle weakness after Zika, called Guillain-Barre syndrome, but this is very rare.
  • Mosquitos that carry Zika are common in Central America, South America, Caribbean Islands, and Pacific Islands. The disease is most common in these areas.
  • Zika can be spread by oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
  • Since 2015, Zika has been found in United States territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Zika 2017

As of March of 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 5,139 cases of Zika in the United Sates. Of these cases, 222 were acquired through mosquitos in two states (Florida and Texas). The rest were diagnosed in people who travelled outside the US to areas where Zika is common. There have been 28 babies born in the US with Zika. As of now, there is no treatment for Zika and no vaccine to prevent it.

CDC now says that South Florida and Brownsville Texas are areas of risk for Zika.

Zika and Pregnancy  

This is what you need to know if you are pregnant or may become pregnant and you live or travel to an area where there is Zika risk:

  • If you do not live in this area, do not travel there.
  • While in the area, protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • While in the area, use a condom every time you have sex.
  • If you had unprotected sex with someone who lives or travelled in a Zika risk area, tell your doctor and get tested for Zika.
  • If you have Zika symptoms, tell your doctor and get tested for Zika.
  • If you become pregnant and you live in a Zika risk area, you should be tested for Zika at your first prenatal care visit, in your second trimester, and any time you have symptoms that could be Zika.
  • If you become pregnant and you travelled in the area, you should be tested for Zika.

If you are planning to become pregnant and you may have been exposed Zika:

  • Wait at least 8 weeks before trying to get pregnant.
  • If your male sexual partner may have been exposed to Zika, wait at least 6 months before trying to get pregnant with your partner.

Bottom Line

Zika has not spread widely in the US yet. Only two states (Texas and Florida) have confirmed cases of Zika caused by local infected mosquitos. Zika is still a major danger outside the US and in US territories. If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, talk to your doctor before travelling to any area where Zika is a risk. If you have travelled or live in a Zika risk area, talk to your doctor about your Zika risk before trying to get pregnant.

Christopher Iliades
Dr. Chris Iliades is a medical doctor with 20 years of experience in clinical medicine and clinical research. Chris has been a full time medical writer and journalist since 2004. His byline appears in over 1,000 articles online including EverydayHealth, The Clinical Advisor, and Healthgrades. He has also written for print media including Cruising World Magazine, MD News, and The Johns Hopkins Children's Center Magazine. Chris lives with his wife and close to his three children and four grandchildren in the Boston area.

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