Guidelines for the Zika virus in pregnant women

According to the CDC, the Zika virus is transmitted through a certain type of mosquito that also transmits other viruses that have been found in the United States. Although the Zika virus has not yet been identified in the United States, there have been infections reported throughout the world in people returning from travel to an area that has seen this virus, which could result in disease transfer from human to human rather than from mosquito and human. This increases the risk of the virus entering the United States.

Pregnant women are not thought to be more at risk for this disease or to have more serious symptoms. However, there is currently an outbreak of this virus in Brazil, and there has been an increase in infants born with microcephaly, which is a disease characterized by abnormal brain growth and an underdeveloped head size. Because of this, there are studies underway to see if the Zika virus is the cause, but until then, the CDC is recommending that all pregnant women hold off on traveling to areas that have a Zika virus outbreak, and if they do travel to this area, to wear long sleeved shirts and use insect repellants. There is no vaccine to prevent this infection and there is currently no cure, just the recommendation of rest, fluids and acetaminophen for fever and pain. In addition, if a woman has been tested positive for this virus, she should receive regular ultrasounds to monitor the growth of her baby and talk with a fetal medicine specialist.

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;65(Early Release):1-4.

I thought this article was very interesting because it was proactive, discussing emerging health risks in other areas of the world before they hit the United States. I believe looking at health information from other areas of the world, especially those neighboring the U.S., and initiating studies based on that information should be done more often to help prevent large outbreaks that can turn into epidemics, which were seen with Ebola and the West Nile Virus. In addition, working on preventative measures, such as vaccines, as early as possible is one step that can be made to help prepare for potential disease outbreaks, because it is better to be over prepared than to be working against an epidemic.

2 thoughts on “Guidelines for the Zika virus in pregnant women”

  1. I’m glad you chose this because I’ve been following it in the news and it’s been heartbreaking to see women’s testimonies about their babies being born with microcephaly after contracting Zika. It brings the question up about how transmittable this is to the US – and whether travel restrictions will prevent Zika infected mosquitos from entering the US and what impact that can have. Also, going back to our inter professional symposium, the babies born with microcephaly are going to require intense medical treatment the rest of their lives – including PT, OT, surgeries. With pharmacists, I wonder how we can help make an impact.

  2. I wonder to what extend the Zika virus outbreak has shown health professionals and world leaders the importance of contraceptive use in the countries that have seen an increase in birth defects. Could this outbreak be a medium to introduce safe contraceptives to these countries in an effort to decrease other fetal disorders? At the end of it all, we can’t tell women in these affected countries to not have children but we can try and provide them preventative measures so that they don’t end up accidentally pregnant. Knowing that there is no vaccine for the disease right now and no time line for when it is readily eliminated from the body, I believe that preventing pregnancies is the only way that the incidence of microcephaly can be lowered.

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