In 2015 and 2016 especially, pregnant women or those hoping to conceive faced the Zika virus. This mosquito borne illness spreads mostly through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes live in tropical, subtropical, and some temperate climates. They are also the main species of mosquito that spread other illnesses such as dengue and chikungunya.
Why Zika is a concern for women
Zika passes from infected men to women during intercourse. Zika may also pass from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause an increased risk of pregnancy loss and severe birth defects such as microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition that causes a smaller than normal head and developmental issues.
How does Zika spread?
Because the Aedes mosquitoes live near and feed on people, they are more likely to spread the virus than other mosquitoes. The CDC estimates that this mosquito can thrive within the majority of the U.S. states and countries throughout the world. Given this great range, completely avoiding Zika risk is impossible although there are certain precautions travelers can take to avoid the illness.
What is the current risk for Zika worldwide?
No country is currently reporting a Zika outbreak. However, the CDC’s most recent stance regarding the illness is that “Zika continues to be a problem in many parts of the world.” 1 Those pregnant or planning a pregnancy should take precautions.
What should pregnant couples or couples trying to conceive do to prevent Zika?
The CDC recommends that pregnant women should avoid traveling to any area during a Zika outbreak. Even though no countries are experiencing an outbreak at this time, it is also recommended that pregnant women or those planning to conceive in upcoming months talk to their health care provider to weigh the risks before travel.
The CDC also recommends men who are exposed to the virus use condoms throughout their partner’s pregnancy. If a man is exposed and planning a pregnancy, trying to conceive should be delayed and condoms should be used for three months.
Have concerns about Zika? Reach out to a CCMH Provider via our online directory at CCMHhealth.com/Directory.
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