What Are the Facts About Zika Virus?

Question

How can I protect myself from the Zika virus and if you test positive for zika, when is it safe to become pregnant after the diagnosis?

Answer

The Zika virus is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, but can also be spread through unprotected sex with someone who is infected with the virus. If a pregnant woman becomes infected, she can pass the Zika virus to her unborn child, which can cause a birth defect called microcephaly.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting Zika virus or available medicine to treat it, so it’s important to take steps to protect yourself from the virus. The CDC recommends that pregnant women should not travel to areas with risk of Zika. Additionally, pregnant women should postpone travel to yellow cautionary areas in the United States. However if you live in or must travel to an area with risk of Zika, it’s important to protect yourself by preventing mosquito bites. Be sure to use an insect repellent and cover your skin with long-sleeves and long pants to protect against bites. Mosquito-proof your home with screens on the windows and doors, use air conditioning when possible, and eliminate standing water. Aedes mosquitoes bite during the day and at night, so remember to follow these guidelines in order to protect yourself from bites 24/7. While it’s important to protect yourself from mosquito bites, it’s also crucial to take steps to prevent sexually transmitting Zika. The CDC advises against having sex during your pregnancy and recommends you use a condom every time you have sex.

If you have travelled to an area with a Zika travel notice and you’re trying to become pregnant, it’s important to wait before trying to conceive. According to the CDC, if the female partner is exposed to an area with a Zika travel notice, wait at least 8 weeks before you try to get pregnant. During this time, make sure to use condoms or abstain from sex. If the male partner is exposed to an area with a Zika travel notice, it is recommended that you wait at least six months after the last exposure or after symptoms start before you try to conceive. Again, don’t have sex or make sure to use condoms during this period of time. If you believe that either you or your partner have been exposed to Zika, talk with your healthcare provider right away about your plans for pregnancy and the possible health effects of the Zika virus infection on a baby.


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