Zika virus can affect pregnant women and also babies. This virus can cause serious birth defects in babies and affect pregnancy also.
WHAT IS ZIKA VIRUS?
Zika virus spreads through infected mosquitoes. It is RNA flavivirus which is a group of viruses that have insect vectors and causes diseases like dengue, malaria, yellow fever, and hepatitis C. It can spread from the bite of an infected ‘Aedes albo Aedes aegypti’ or pictus mosquito.
All You Need to Know About Pregnancy and Zika Virus
HOW IS ZIKA TRANSMITTED?
Zika virus can spread from one person to another through –
- Mosquito bites – most common way. When a mosquito infected with zika bites a person, that person becomes infected with the virus. The mosquito ends up with the virus by biting an infected person and then passes it on to others when it bites them. The pathogen is present in the bloodstream for at least a week after becoming infected.
- From mother to unborn baby – a mother can pass the virus to the baby. It has the capability to travel through the placenta and affect the baby in the womb.
- Sexual transmission – zika can be transmitted having sex with an infected individual through virus-infected body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids, and menstrual blood.
- From infected blood, body fluids and tissues – in a hospital there may come across infected tissue or blood. If there is a blood transfusion from an infected person, zika could affect.
ZIKA VIRUS SYMPTOMS
Symptoms are mild and following are some commonly seen –
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Redness in the whites of the eye
TESTING FOR ZIKA VIRUS
Testing is based on blood or urine sample and the doctor confirms the result. The test may give negative results which do not necessarily mean that there is nothing. Zika lingers in the body months after being infected. Doctors order 3 different tests to make absolutely sure that it is a Zika virus infection. If the test is positive the doctor will recommend an amniocentesis to determine if the baby has been infected by the virus. An ultrasound test is also done every 3-4 weeks to check the baby for signs of microcephaly and abnormal calcium deposits in the skull.
REDUCING THE RISK OF ZIKA VIRUS
Zika virus does not have a vaccine, cure or treatment. Only the symptoms of the infection can be managed and treated. Infected people should rest, stay hydrated and take pain relief medication. Infected people should also avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes for the first two weeks of illness. This is because they can spread the disease to other people through mosquito bites.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM ZIKA VIRUS
The best way to protect yourself from zika virus is avoiding mosquito bites by following the tips –
- Use mosquito repellent
- Wear clothes with long sleeves
- Avoid wooded areas and mosquito-infested outdoors
- Use air conditioners
- Use a mosquito net
- Avoid going to the areas affected by zika virus
- Keep the house and neighborhood clean
- During pregnancy avoid visiting zika virus affected areas. If traveling an infected area, talk to the doctor about all the precautions and once return get the tests done.
- It can transmit sexually so, avoid multiple partners and always use contraceptives like condoms.
- Protect yourself from getting bitten by mosquitoes by using repellents and expose as less skin as possible to avoid mosquito bites.
- If getting a blood transfusion, make sure the blood is testes for the zika virus.
- If working in the healthcare industry, follow workplace safety precautions. Wear gloves, glasses and a mask. Do not come into direct contact with infected body fluids.
- If planning to conceive via IVF through donated sperm, make sure that the sperm has been tested for the zika virus or that the donor is not infected.
IF YOU OR YOUR PARTNER HAVE ZIKA VIRUS, IS IT OKAY TO GET PREGNANT?
No, it is not okay to get pregnant because it is transmitted sexually. So before getting pregnant consult the doctor and get the tests done.
EFFECT OF ZIKA VIRUS ON BABY DURING PREGNANCY
Zika virus can infect pregnant women and cause serious birth defects in the unborn baby. It causes microcephaly in the fetus, a condition characterized by an unusually small head and underdeveloped brain. It can also cause other neurological problems in the baby of an infected mother such as hearing loss, vision problems, defective growth, seizures, and epilepsy.
Guillain-barre syndrome or GBS is a condition that affects the nervous system and is at high risk of developing infected with a zika virus. It is rare in pregnancy but the mother can develop GBS, it can be potentially lethal. It can cause serious damage to the mother and also be fatal for the baby. Affected mothers have to be closely watched for symptoms for respiratory failure and problems with the autonomous nervous system which controls breathing, heartbeat and digestion.
CAN YOU BREASTFEED IF YOU HAVE ZIKA VIRUS?
Breastfeeding can be done during pregnancy if infected with zika. The zika virus is found in breast milk, however, there is no evidence of babies getting infected from breast milk.
Conclusion – The zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease that is very dangerous for pregnant women and unborn babies as it causes serious birth defects. Try to prevent the infection.