My husband and I have started talking babies, read that right family, TALKING only! It is an exciting and scary time to start thinking about having a baby, but with everything in the news about Zika virus, it is making pregnancy that much more terrifying. To top it off, we have a Cancun trip already planned for a family wedding. Not to say that I will be pregnant at that time, but if I am, should I even be going? In my true nature, I took to the internet. If you go to the CDC website, you can search the area you are traveling and they have the rate of Zika cases, Cancun is Zika free as of yet.
What is Zika?
In case you haven’t heard, there is concern that the virus leads to severe neurologic birth defects, more specifically microcephaly and Guillain-Barré. If you are not pregnant or trying to become pregnant the virus is of no real threat. You may have some joint pains, aches, a rash, and a fever that are treated with fluids and NSAIDs, nothing to really cause any worry and no long-lasting effects.
The Link Between Zika and Birth Defects
Zika virus has not been proven cause these birth defects, only suspected. This suspicion arose when a cluster of neurologic birth defects arose in areas with Zika. Until they prove that it does not cause these problems, I think we should behave as if it does. There is not a vaccine to prevent the spread of Zika. There is no cure once you contract it. The only defense we have is to prevent the spread of disease. The Aedes mosquito transmits the Zika virus when it bites it’s host. Avoid mosquito bites and you avoid the virus!
Treatments and Prevention
The good news is that the government has authorized Medicaid to reimburse 90% of the cost of bug repellant, if prescribed by a doctor! Chose a bug-repellant that is EP certified and contains any of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Use as directed and remember to reapply as instructed on the packaging. Consumer Reports has ranked several bug repellant sprays to help you purchase one that will provide adequate protection. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if possible. Keep the AC on and use screens and sleeping nets to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
*It is established that men and women can pass the virus during sexual activity. If your partner is pregnant, wearing a condom for all sexual interaction is required to not pass the virus sexually. Many people can have contracted the virus but not have symptoms. You should continue using condoms or practicing abstinence for 6 months after returning from an endemic area.
** Update: As of August 10th 2016, there are 6 reported cases of locally-acquired Zika in the US. These cases were all in Florida. The total number of cases in the US is 1962; 22 of which were sexually transmitted and 6 of which are related to Guillain-Barré syndrome. The CDC has a breakdown of each states Zika cases.
The virus is present in the bloodstream and can be transmitted if you are bit by a mosquito and that mosquito goes on to bite someone else. Continue to wear bug repellant for three weeks after returning from endemic areas to prevent the spread to others.