The Scary Truth About Zika Virus and Pregnancy

The spread of Zika Virus has lessened somewhat since it became one of the world’s top health concerns in 2016, but it has not disappeared.

Between November of 2016 and January of 2017, there were approximately 4,000 new cases reported in the United States and its territories alone. If you’re pregnant and planning to travel, you need to know about the connection between Zika Virus and pregnancy.

What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is an infection that is spread through mosquito bites, similar to yellow fever, West Nile virus, and dengue. Sexual transmission of the disease has also been reported in countries including Germany, France, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States.

Zika Virus Symptoms

Most adults who have contracted the Zika virus are symptom-free or experience very mild symptoms. This can include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Muscle Pain
  • Joint Pain
  • Eye Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Zika virus rash

Symptoms of Zika virus aren’t usually extreme enough to warrant a hospital visit, and the risk of death is very rare. The real concern is to expectant parents, as there is a proven link between Zika Virus and pregnancy defects.

Zika Virus and Pregnancy

If a woman contracts Zika virus while pregnant, it can be passed to her fetus in-utero. The scary connection between Zika virus and pregnancy is the risk of a birth defect known as microcephaly and other fetal brain defects. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus, and there is currently no medical treatment.

Travel Destinations of Concern

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued warnings for the locations most at risk for the Zika virus. This includes areas in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Pacific Islands, and Mexico. In the United States, there were recent reports of mosquito-borne transmission In Brownsville, TX and South Florida.

Prevention of Zika Virus

Those who have their hearts set on a romantic Southeast Asian getaway or a bucket list vacation, don’t necessarily have to cancel their plans. Checking CDC travel warnings will help to determine the threat level.

Even if it’s been determined that the destination is not high risk, it’s smart to take simple precautions to help prevent possible Zika virus infection.

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Use an EPA registered insect repellant frequently, and always follow instructions. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to minimize skin exposure.

Take steps to keep mosquitos away including using screens on doors and windows, getting rid of standing water, and sleeping under a mosquito net when warranted.

Avoid Unprotected Sex

Since many people with Zika virus don’t exhibit symptoms, it’s important to always use a condom for protection. Those who have been infected can spread the virus before, during, and after experiencing symptoms.

Plan Your Travel

If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, it’s in your best interest to avoid areas known to be at high risk for the Zika virus. Check the latest travel recommendations before leaving and always heed warnings.

Don’t Despair, There Are Other Travel Options

The link between Zika virus and pregnancy may make expectant women second-guess their travel plans. However, there’s no reason to give up planning a fun travel adventure. There are still many great romantic getaways and budget-friendly travel destinations within the continental United States.

Not sure where to go? Follow the Travel to Blank blog for lots of travel tips and destination ideas to help you plan your next epic vacation.