Zika is a RNA virus, first identified in Uganda in 1947. It can affect humans following the bite of an Aedes genus mosquito. Symptoms are FLU like illness, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain usually 2-7 days after a mosquito bite. Many adults may remain asymptomatic. Guillain and Barre like syndrome – muscle weakness due to peripheral nerves being affected is report as major side effect of this virus.
This virus is strongly suspected of causing a severe birth defect called microcephaly, which causes underdevelopment of the head and brain. There has been a worrying increase in the number of newborns with microcephaly in the epidemic areas with this viral infection. Pregnant women can avoid travelling to reported epidemic such as Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, US Virgin Islands, Venezuela.
There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine for this infection.
If you do have to travel to these places during pregnancy, ensure you have adequate protection against mosquito bites. If you were pregnant and have travelled to one of these countries, ensure that your pregnancy is monitored closely with ultrasound scans to ensure normal growth in the baby.
Our centers can help by offering scans to identify growth issues in the baby if you have been exposed. – Dr. Afshin Pour Mirza MD, Ph.D, Feto-Maternal Medicine/Obs and Gyn Specialist.