What You Need to Know About Zika Virus

Posted on Mar 14 2016 - 1:22am by WMWM

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning to pregnant women visiting areas where the virus has spread. For now, the CDC recommends that men having sex after traveling to these areas use condoms and pregnant women avoid contact with semen from men exposed to the virus. Massachusetts has one confirmed case of the Zika virus and additional cases are possible.

Dr. Andrew Healy, a perinatologist in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Baystate Medical Center answers important questions about Zika.

Q. What is the Zika virus and how is it transmitted?
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness like yellow fever, dengue and West Nile viruses, spread through the bite of an Aedes mosquito. There is no vaccine or medication, but researchers are working on both.

Q. Should people be concerned about traveling to Zika-affected areas?
While everyone is at risk, in general, people should not be concerned. If you are pregnant, contact your doctor before traveling.

Q. What should a woman do if she was pregnant while visiting an infected area, or became pregnant shortly after?
Pregnant women should contact their obstetric provider if they recently traveled to at-risk areas. CDC issued interim evaluation and treatment guidelines for infants born to mothers who traveled in these areas during pregnancy.

Q. How can you prevent being infected with the Zika virus?
Use insect repellents – especially those containing DEET – avoid freestanding water and wear protective clothing treated with permethrin prior to travel.

Q. What countries are included in the current CDC advisory?
As of this writing, there are over 25 regions outside the U.S. For the latest CDC travel advisories visit: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/

For more information on Baystate Medical Center, visit baystatehealth.org/bmc

Keith O’Connor
Contributing Writer