With summer in full swing, chances are you have a vacation on the horizon. If it involves a trip to the tropics, you may want to read on.
The World Health Organization issued new guidelines for the mosquito-borne Zika Virus earlier this month. According to the latest data, the virus is now circulating in at least 50 countries located in Latin America and the Caribbean. While local transmission via mosquito has yet to hit the U.S. mainland, it has made its way to U.S. territories.
So what does this mean for you?
If you’re planning to become pregnant, there are special precautions to consider. The new revisions include:
Anyone returning from travel to an affected country should refrain from unprotected sex, particularly if attempting to conceive a baby, for a full 8 weeks, up from 4 weeks previously stated. This applies to all travelers, even if they show no symptoms.
In addition, men with active or prior symptoms of Zika should practice safe sex or consider abstaining for at least 6 months.
Why the increased time periods? Both the WHO and the CDC have definitively linked the Zika virus to an alarming rise in cases of microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by a small head and brain damage. The condition can also lead to other birth defects including learning delays and vision and hearing problems. In addition, Zika can also cause Guillain-Barré Syndrome, an immune disorder that affects people of all ages.
With the new information, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms associated with Zika, which may include:
-Red eyes or conjunctivitis
-Painful joints or muscles
Here at Nile Ob-Gyn, we value both your health and the health of your baby. If you are planning to become pregnant, strongly consider delaying travel to any location with confirmed Zika cases. If you must travel, plan to apply an EPA-registered insect repellant and follow other preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites while you are away.
For more information on the latest guidelines, visit http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/.