Word about the Zika virus has been spreading for months, and it’s a very scary issue. The Zika virus affects humans and is transmitted sexually and through infected mosquitoes. Though research is still being done, there is more and more mounting evidence that the Zika virus can have a very profound effect on pregnant women and their growing fetuses, including pregnancy loss, brain and eye abnormalities, and microcephaly, which is the baby being born with a smaller-than-normal head. It’s enough to scare anyone, pregnant or not!
The Zika virus is spreading into the U.S., but it is recommended that pregnant women (or women who are planning to become pregnant) avoid traveling to infected countries, just to stay safe. Fortunately, airlines and most resorts and hotels have been pretty understanding. When my husband and I found out that the Zika virus was in Florida, we were all set to cancel our trip to Disney World when I was 30 weeks pregnant. But we learned that in Florida the virus is not being spread through mosquitoes, but rather sexually, when a man is infected, so we knew we didn’t have to worry. But the possibility of exposure was enough to concern us.
Tufts Medical Center has a team of general and high-risk obstetricians who can help you if you think you’ve been exposed to the Zika virus. The incubation period is 3-14 days, and you can be tested through blood work. If a pregnant woman thinks she has been exposed, ultrasounds are recommended to check the fetus for signs of exposure. Even if the initial ultrasound shows no sign of infection, pregnant women may be tested on a regular basis just to be sure, since there is so much still unknown about the Zika virus. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tufts Medical Center has the resources and team to provide for all aspects of prenatal care, including potential exposure to the Zika virus.
Since the recommendations for travel are always changing, it’s best to keep yourself informed and aware of where the Zika virus is present by checking the CDC website, working with your doctors, and taking precautions to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes. If you are planning to get pregnant, be mindful of waiting periods if exposure may have happened. Most of all, do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
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