It’s snow time…are you yearning for warmth and winter respite…like a vacation to the Caribbean and Latin America? Well, beware of the Zika virus. Zika virus affects the unborn child, by making the little head to stop growing. Babies die from this, and the survivors don’t have normal brain development.
The Zika virus was identified around the 1950’s in Uganda, and pretty much stayed in Africa until it was found in Micronesia by around 2007. In 2015, however, it became prominent in Latin America, with a large number of cases in Brazil. In fact, from October 2015 to the present, over 3500 small-headed babies were identified in Brazil alone. This is many, many more than they usually have! And these mothers/babies tested positive for the Zika virus, so we know the Zika virus caused the problem.
And in the U.S.? There is a confirmed case. The mother of a small headed baby born in the last few weeks in Hawaii was living in Brazil last May. Tests were positive for Zika virus.
All of this has prompted the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to issue a Travel Alert for pregnant women or those who may become pregnant for 14 countries and territories in Latin America.
The CDC has also issued guidelines for evaluating and following pregnant women who have traveled to these areas.
There is no treatment for Zika virus. And the symptoms for healthy adults are mild fever, rash, joint pain, and pink eye symptoms. Adults usually get over it pretty easily, with only one in five even knowing they are sick. It is truly, just the unborn babies that seem to be at extreme risk.
So, if you have been to Latin America in the last 9 months and are, or possibly could be, pregnant, tell your gynecologist. If you are planning to go, learn about the most up-date-info on the www.cdc.gov website, as new information no doubt will be added often. Give that kid a hug!