CDC warns pregnant women about Zika virus outbreak when traveling to Caribbean Islands, South and Central America. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the virus was a rare disease in the past and it might be linked to various birth defects.
The Zika virus had never been known to cause birth defects or other illnesses until last year. Even though three quarters of those people who get the virus are not even aware of the fact that they had it last May in Brazil there were reported a number of increasing cases of microcephaly.
This condition is a birth defect which leads to underdeveloped heads and brains. Microcephaly can cause miscarriages and kill babies or those who survive are in most cases severely disabled.
The virus has been seen in 14 countries such as Brazil, Martinique, Panama, Haiti, Venezuela and Mexico. Of course the virus is also carried by travellers, but unless it is clear that someone was infected by a mosquito in a certain area the country is not perceived as having Zika locally. For example the CDC explained that 12 people in the US were seen to have the Zika virus in 2015 and 2016, but they were only travellers who got it from other countries.
The worrying CDC report is the one regarding the microcephaly cases. Brazilian health authorities reported that over 3.500 cases of microcephaly occurred between October 2015 and January 201. Some of the children who were severely affected even died. Another worrying aspect is the fact that the factors which increase the danger for the fetus and the outcomes which are linked to infection during pregnancy are not fully known.
Pregnant women or women who are planning to get pregnant are not the only ones who should show and abundance of caution, but CDC warns US doctors to be aware of any symptoms of Zika infection.
First of all women who are pregnant in any trimester should postpone travelling to areas from where they could get the virus. Nevertheless if they want to travel there they should consult their healthcare provider before they do so. CDC also enumerates some steps which pregnant women should follow such as for example wearing long sleeves, using insecticides and even staying indoors as much as possible. Insect repellents which contain picaridin, IR3535 and DEET are recommended because they are safe both for nursing and pregnant women and for children who are older than two months.
Image Source: islandmix.com
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