Pregnant? Why you still can't go to Cancun

By Todd Norman
Ten things you actually need to know about the Zika Virus today
Yep, you read that right, if you are pregnant or wanting to get pregnant you should not be traveling to Cancun. Cancun isn’t the only one being singled out, there are over 45 countries you should avoid traveling to according to the latest reports from the CDC (Center for Disease Control). For the most up to date list click here. So, what’s the reason behind it all?
The reason is a disease called the Zika Virus. Have you heard about it yet? If you have heard of it do you know how to keep yourself safe and most importantly anybody in your life who may be pregnant or wanting to become pregnant in the near future?
There are a lot of questions, rumors, and concerns out there concerning the Zika Virus. We did our homework to sift through all of that to find the ten things you actually need to know about the Zika virus today.

What is the Zika Virus? The Zika virus, which is very new to the western hemisphere, is related to dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile Virus. The Virus can cause infection and disease and is primarily transmitted through infected mosquitoes.

What are health risks of the Zika Virus? For most adults who are infected the symptoms are very mild if you notice them at all. There has been recent studies into the correlation between the Zika virus and a rare sickness of the nervous system called Guillain-Bare syndrome (GBS). This is highly uncommon, 1 in 100,000 report having this in the US. Some of the mild symptoms are a low fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. Although it may not sound that bad, the Zika virus was named a World Health Emergency in 2016 by the World Health Organization. This is because the Zika virus can cause a serious birth defect during pregnancy.  

How can it affect a pregnancy?
The Zika virus while for most adults may be a mild nuisance it can severely affect an unborn child during a pregnancy. During a pregnancy the Zika virus can be passed from the mother to the fetus which can develop into a disease called microcephaly. This disease causes the brain to not fully develop. This causes the baby to have a head smaller than expected and can result in further brain damage.
What are the chances of the virus affecting a pregnancy? In a report published by the New England Journal of Medicine, they estimate that the risk of the baby developing microcephaly when a pregnant mother has been infected with the Zika virus during the first trimester can be as high as 13%. The CDC does not currently know if there is a safe time to travel to areas at risk of the Zika virus during a pregnancy. The best option is of course is to avoid becoming infected.

If I do get infected with Zika will future pregnancies be at risk? There is no current evidence that a woman who has recovered from Zika will have Zika related pregnancy complications in the future. Based on similar infections, once a person has been infected with Zika and has cleared the virus from the body, they will likely be protected from future Zika infections.

How can someone become infected?The virus is primarily spread through bites from infected mosquitoes. The virus can also be spread through unprotected sex and if a pregnant mother is infected there is a chance it could spread to the fetus and cause the baby to have microcephaly.

Is the Virus spreading? The virus is spreading, it can spread from one country to another as people travel and become infected, those people may then transmit the disease through mosquitoes, without evening knowing they are carriers. There have been two areas where local mosquito-borne viruses have been reported, Brownsville, Texas and South Florida. While this may seem alarming, there is work being done to create vaccines and if you are smart in your travels and stay up to date on the areas of risk you needn’t overly worry about yourself and anyone you know who may be pregnant.

How is Zika diagnosed? Watch for the mild symptoms, especially if you or someone you know has recently traveled to an infected area. A doctor can diagnose the disease if you are worried you may have been infected. Your doctor will ask you about recent travel and symptoms you have been having, as well as collect blood or urine samples.

Is there a cure for Zika? Currently there is no cure or vaccine for Zika, if you are infected the best thing to do is get plenty of rest, drink a lot of fluid to prevent dehydration, as well as taking medicine to reduce any fever.
What can I do to prevent getting the Zika virus? The best way to prevent becoming infected is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. First and most important is to avoid traveling to places the CDC has listed to avoid. Second use insect repellent, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, try to remain indoors where there is air conditioning, and if you camp outside sleep inside a tent and use a mosquito net. In addition avoid having unprotected sex during the pregnancy as it can be sexually transmitted as well.
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