Zika Virus – An Alert Signal for Pregnant Women

Zika virus, a mosquito born virus is a rapidly growing concern all over the world and has most devastating consequences especially on pregnant women. However, the researches are still on and there are many uncertainties of zika virus infection while a woman is pregnant.

zika virus an alert signal for pregnant women

Why is Zika Virus Spreading Rapidly?

Primarily the Zika virus is spreading rapidly because people in central and North America were not exposed to this virus earlier. Any new virus can spread rapidly as there is no immunity developed among the people of the region.

Secondly, it is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, and these were first found in the Zika Forest located in Uganda in the year 1947. Zika virus is also related to dengue, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, and viruses at West Nile. During 1950s, it was widely prevalent in the equatorial belt from Africa to Asia and then it started spreading eastward across the Pacific Ocean and then to French Polynesia. It has reached pandemic levels in other countries.

Zika virus fever cannot be prevented by medications or vaccines; however if it affects pregnant women, it can lead to microcephaly but researchers are yet to say whether the virus is the cause.

Risks to Pregnant Woman

It is vital to know the reasons why expecting mothers having greater risk.

  • When a pregnant woman is infected with Zika virus, the infection will also reach the fetus. There has already been a high rise in number of babies born with abnormality in Brazil. It is known that the Zika virus infection is causing baby to born with smaller head and in some case smaller brain too.
  • The condition may also be linked to several developmental issues with baby and in rare cases it can also have fatal outcomes. It is believed that the foetus is exposed to the highest risk when the pregnant woman is infected with Zika virus during the first trimester. Studies have also revealed that the infection may damage vision of the baby.

Symptoms of Zika

The symptoms of Zika infection resembles slight flu and might include symptoms like low grade fever, rash, headache, muscle or joint pains and conjunctivitis. These symptoms usually last from several days up to a week. However, there is no evidence of pregnant woman showing signs of clear symptoms of infection.

How to Prevent Zika Virus During Pregnancy?

  • Pregnant woman are advised to take extra care when having sex with a person travelling to infected area.
  • Partners should use condoms to reduce the risk to potential sexual transmission due to the Zika virus. Since there is no vaccine available for this virus, it is recommended to keep up to date with latest information about its prevention.
  • It is advised to delay travel of pregnant woman to the region listed as highly infected.

Governmental Steps Taken to Control Zika

One of the major means to control Zika is by controlling the breeding of Aedes mosquito which is the carrier of the virus. In gulf coast, specific actions are taken to control the breeding of Aedes mosquito.

Although there was experimental works in progress but experts believe that we are years behind of getting a vaccine against the Zika virus. The blood transfusion of Zika is controlled by regular testing of donors who either travelled to affected area or had sex with someone in the infected area.

After declaring Zika a global health emergency, WHO is also raising funds for its global emergency response plan and more and more countries are advised to take specific action to prevent spread of Zika virus.

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