Zika Virus Disease & Pregnancy! Everything You Should Know!!

Tropical weather attracts a host of things – festivities, marriages, vacations and unfortunately mosquitoes! We know that mosquitoes bring with them different diseases, one such dreadful disease is that caused by the Zika Virus.

So, what is Zika Virus Disease?

Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes species mosquito, mainly the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

Aedes aegypti is the vector for other diseases too, including dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever.

What are the symptoms of Zika infection?

 Zika infection symptoms are similar to that seen in dengue and include:

  • Fever (rare cases  higher than 102 degrees)
  • Skin rashes
  • Joint pains
  • Headache
  • Generalized malaise
  • Muscle pain
  • Red eyes

These symptoms in general last for around 2-7 days.

Which time of the day is more prone to mosquito attack?

Aedes mosquitoes most often bite during the day, mainly during early morning and late afternoon or early evening.

How are people infected with the Zika virus?

Zika spreads to people through:

  • Primary route: By the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.
  • Other routes of the infection are:
  1. During/around the pregnancy when the carrying mother passes the virus to the growing fetus.
  2. Any person infected with Zika can pass it to his or her sex partners through body fluids.

How is Zika infection diagnosed?

To diagnose Zika, you will be asked about any recent travel/trips made along with a history of any symptoms you have. Your  blood &/or urine is  then collected to test for Zika or any similar viruses.

How does Zika Virus affect your pregnancy planning?

In a study, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was reported that Zika may not remain in semen as long as before believed. Semen nonetheless carries the virus longer than any other body fluid.

So, although Zika virus is transmitted primarily transmitted through mosquitoes, it is also known to be sexually transmitted – be it vaginal,  anal or oral sex.

Note: As per the CDC, once an individual has been infected with Zika, it’s very likely they will be protected from any future infections. As of now, there is no scientific evidence that indicates past Zika infection to cause birth defects in future pregnancies.

Nonetheless, even if you or your partner do not show any signs of Zika infection, but you are in a Zika infested zone, it would be best to practice safe sex (barrier methods – male or female condoms) and speak to your doctor, and plan you pregnancy with their consent.

How does Zika Virus affect your pregnancy?

If contracted during pregnancy, Zika infection leads to a type of birth defect in newborn. This defect is known as microcephaly – where  the baby has a small head; along with other defects like neurological impairment, blindness, deafness, seizures &/or other congenital severe brain defects.

How does Zika Virus affect adults?

In adults, Zika infection may lead to a type of temporary paralysis/uncommon sicknesses of the nervous system known as Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)  However, only a small percent of people with recent Zika virus infection get GBS.

How prevalent is ​Zika virus in India?

The Zika virus is a fairly new disease in our country, with the history of first outbreak occurring in Ahmadabad in January and February 2017. The second outbreak was then reported in July 2017 in Tamil Nadu (Krishnagiri district). The third and current Zika virus outbreak is being reported in Jaipur, with a 120+ people being diagnosed positive with the disease as of today.

If you are infected with Zika Virus Disease will it affect your future pregnancy?

If you are currently not pregnant and are infected with Zika Virus Disease, there is no evidence that once you have recovered (the Zika virus has cleared your body) you will have Zika-related pregnancy complications in your future pregnancy. As per the CDC, once a person infected with Zika virus and has cleared the virus from his/her body, they are likely to be protected from any future Zika infections.

How long should I wait to plan my pregnancy after being infected by the Zika Virus?

It depends on who is infected in such cases, As per the CDC:

  • If a man is infected or has traveled to a Zika infested area, he should wait 3 months after the exposure/clearing of the symptoms.
  • If a woman is infected or has traveled to a Zika infested area she should wait 2 months after the exposure/clearing of the symptoms.

In a nutshell, this was a brief overview of the Zika Virus Disease and how it may affect your pregnancy. We would ask you to take proper care of your health and know more about the protection and treatment of Zika Virus from your doctor.

 

 

 

 

 

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Aishwarya

Dr. Aishwarya Rajeev has completed her MDS degree and is currently pursuing her PhD. She is an avid reader and loves to teach and write!

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