What should you know about the Zika Virus if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant?

If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, a far-off vacation seems like a good idea: a babymoon time when you and your husband can travel together one last time without children. And of course, summer is the perfect time to finally get to that white sand beach and turquoise water.

But news of the Zika virus may have you wondering: is it safe?

It’s a question many are asking, including Olympic athletes on their way to Rio, Brazil. American cyclist Tejay van Garderen dropped out of consideration because his wife is pregnant.

While you may not want to skip your trip, pregnant women and those trying to become pregnant should consider all the facts before traveling to certain parts of the world – and now in some areas of the United States.

Infection and Symptoms

People become infected with the Zika virus through the bite of a mosquito. A man can also pass the virus to his partner during sex. A pregnant woman can pass Zika to her child during pregnancy or delivery.

Zika’s most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Zika rarely requires hospitalization or causes death. In adults, it’s usually a mild illness lasting for several days. Some people may not realize they’ve been infected.

Risks

There is a lot not known about Zika at this time. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is uncertain whether a woman who contracts the Zika virus will give it to her baby, or if she does, whether the child will develop any birth defects.

What we do know is that Brazil has experienced a significant outbreak of Zika virus and since then, more babies have been born with microcephaly. Scientists studying the issue have concluded that there is a link, though other things also cause microcephaly.

Microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected because the baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth. Babies born with microcephaly may experience several problems after birth including:

  • Seizures
  • Developmental delays
  • Intellectual disability
  • Problems with movement and balance
  • Feeding problems, such as difficulty swallowing
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision problems

Where (Not) to Travel

Summer fun can be found in many places, making it fairly easy to avoid risky areas. If you are concerned, it’s best to avoid the following:

  • Miami, FL (recent out breaks)
  • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands
  • American Samoa
  • Africa
  • Southeast Asia
  • Pacific Islands
  • Brazil

Outbreaks are occurring in many other areas as well, and it’s best to check the CDC’s travel page for the latest information.

Generations Family Practice now offers a lab test for Zika. Please note that not all insurers cover it. Learn more about Zika and pregnancy from the CDC and speak to your Generations’ provider about any concerns you have regarding Zika or other travel risks this summer.