Pregnancy is a time when the immune system is somewhat depressed and many women suffer from colds and other ailments they would not otherwise. During this time it is important for a woman to follow doctors orders, exercise right, rest well, eat well and avoid activities that expose her or her unborn child to danger. Some of these dangerous activities include the use of illicit drugs, alcohol and over exercising.
Lately, exposure to infected mosquitoes bites have added to the list of dangers to mom and baby. In the past, moms just had to stay away from certain medications, illicit drugs and alcohol to grow a healthy baby but now if a mom lives in an area affected by Zika, they can still have a babies with neurological complications.
Starting in 2015, there has been outbreaks of the Zika virus infection in several countries in the Americas and this infection has spread to the U.S.A especially this summer. According to the center for disease control and prevention (CDC), about 4000 people have been reported with the infection in the United States and its territories. Out of the 4000+ reported, about 600 are pregnant women.
It is now confirmed that babies born to moms infected with the Zika virus have the risk of being born with certain birth defects.
What is Zika Virus Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this disease is cause by the Zika virus and is spread mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. This mosquito is the same one that spreads Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. Aedes mosquitoes are aggressive daytime bitters and love warm moist weathers.
Aedes mosquitoes becomes infected when they ingest blood from and infected person. This mosquito in turn infects people when it bites and feed on them, leaving behind infected saliva. Transmission of infection from mother to child is low but if a woman is infected while pregnant, they can transmit this infection to their babies which can lead to babies born with neurological birth defects such as microcephaly.
It is not known when during pregnancy, Zika can cause problems for the baby. It is also not known how likely this infection will affect your pregnancy and no one knows for sure whether your baby will develop a birth defect from the infection. Because breastfeeding is very beneficial to the baby, moms are advised to continue breastfeeding even in areas with outbreaks because there is not clear proof that Zika can be transmitted by breast milk.
Zika virus can be transmitted from male to female in sperm so it is advisable to avoid having sex with your pregnant partner if you suspect you are infected with the virus or have been to a place with an active infection like Brazil.
Signs and symptoms
Only about 1 out of 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill. The most common symptoms are;
- painful joints and rashes.
Sometimes people have headache and muscle ache but symptoms are usually very mild and do not require hospitalization.
There are currently no vaccines against the virus. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid mosquito bites. The mosquito that spread Zika is most active during the day period. If you leave in a place that has an outbreak of Zika virus, use insect repellants when out doors. The best repellants are those that contain DEET, some oils of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, para-methane-diol products and IR3535, because they are long lasting.
For more protection against infection do the following;
- If possible wear long sleeves and long pants and treat cloths with permethrin.
- Use window screens on all windows in your house and keep your air conditioner running.
- Empty all standing water bodies and containers around your house to prevent mosquito larva from growing in them.
- If you are infected, protect others from becoming infected by preventing mosquito bite within the first week of infection.
Zika virus has been associated with microcephaly (birth defect where babies are born with a smaller than normal head) and poor pregnancy outcomes for babies of mothers infected with the virus while pregnant. More research is needed to confirm the relationship between Zika virus and pregnancy outcomes for babied but while waiting, the CDC recommends that pregnant women use all the preventive techniques mentioned above.
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