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Q and A Pregnant Women: Zika Virus

February 16, 2016

What is Zika virus?
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne single-stranded RNA virus related to dengue virus. In the Americas, Zika virus is primarily transmitted by Aedes aegypti, but Aedes albopictus mosquitoes can also transmit the virus.

How is Zika virus transmitted?
Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Aedes mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and feed both indoors and outdoors. They can also bite at night. Zika virus can be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. We do not know how often Zika perinatal transmission occurs. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible.

Is there a risk of sexual transmission to a pregnant woman from a male partner with Zika virus infection?
Sexual transmission of Zika virus can occur, although there is limited data about the risk. The risk for sexual transmission of Zika virus can be eliminated by abstinence and reduced by correct and consistent use of condoms. Additional studies are needed to characterize the risk of sexual transmission of Zika virus.
Who is at greatest risk of being infected?
Persons living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found who have not already been infected with Zika virus. Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. Please visit CDC’s Zika Travel Information webpage for the most updated information.

What is the potential for Zika virus to spread to the United States?
Currently, local transmission of Zika virus by mosquitoes has not been reported in the continental United States, but has been reported in the Commonwealth Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. With the current outbreaks in the Americas, the number of cases among U.S. travelers is expected to increase. As the number of returning travelers with Zika virus disease increases, viral introduction and local spread in the U.S. may occur. As more information before available, CDC will provide updates on its Zika website.

What are symptoms of Zika virus infection?
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become symptomatic. Characteristic clinical findings are acute onset of fever with maculopapular rash, arthralgia, or conjunctivitis. Other commonly reported symptoms include myalgia and headache. Clinical illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

Are there complications of Zika virus infection?
There have been cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome reported in patients following suspected Zika virus infection. The relationship between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome is not known.

How can Zika virus infection be prevented?
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection. Travelers can protect themselves by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. Use insect repellent; wear long-sleeved shirts and pants; and stay in places with air conditioning or with window and door screens. Pregnant women can and should choose an EPA-registered insect repellents and use it according to the product label. Given the potential risks of maternal Zika virus infection, pregnant women whose male partners have or are at risk for Zika virus infection should consider using condoms or abstaining from sexual intercourse.

Are there any special precautions for pregnant women on the use of insect repellents?
EPA-registered insect repellents containing ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for use during pregnancy when used in accordance with product label.

Open the full information page link from the CDC here.

information taken directly from Center for Disease Control website:
Heather Knott, RN-IBCLC


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