According to WHO, the Zika virus spread is a public health emergency of international concern. Of course, the implications for moms-to-be are substantial as infection seems to have a relation to microcephaly. Wonder if Zika virus can harm babies after they are born? Although infants may be infected with the virus, it is likely to manifest similarly to the way it will in adults. Due to the strong anxiety about this type of virus, it is understandable that parents will have a lot of questions in mind. The following are the facts you should know about the virus.
What is Zika virus?
Zika virus disease is primarily spread by mosquitoes. It is a mild infection without any harm for most normal people. But it can be more serious for pregnant women. The reason is that it may cause birth defects or also called microcephaly and other brain abnormalities in many infants. According to experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) while lots of the questions remain, they hope that there will be a right treatment for this disease soon.
Zika symptoms do not only appear in the UK, but the outbreak has also been available in the Pacific region. If you are planning to visit any affected area, it is better to find travel health advice before traveling. Advice will be tailored to you as well as based on the level of risk (moderate, high, low, very low) for the country you want to visit.
Common symptoms of Zika virus infection
By and large, most of the people do not experience any symptoms. If symptoms do start, they are just mild and last 2 to 7 days. Some common symptoms you may experience include: rash, fever, headache, itching all over the body, joint pain (with possible swelling), conjunctivitis (red eyes), lower back pain, muscle pain and pain behind the eyes.
How does Zika spread?
Of course, mosquitoes may carry Zika virus from person to person. So, in case an expectant mama is infected, the Zika may be transmitted to her unborn kid while around the time of birth. Mosquitoes that carry Zika virus may bite both indoors and outdoors, usually during the daytime. Since the weather becomes warmer, a number of mosquitoes will circulate. It is better to help your children protect themselves from mosquito bites.
- Sexual Transmission
Men who have traveled to areas where the Zika outbreak is spreading are advised to use condoms during sex with their partners or even abstain from sex for the duration of the pregnancy. Even though their wives are not pregnant, men should also consider taking such steps. According to many researchers, they have not known how long the virus stays in semen.
The CDC still reviews information about whether the virus may be transmitted via saliva and urine without making a recommendation about these fluids at present. Those who travel to the affected areas should not donate their blood within 28 days after a trip.
How may Zika affect a baby during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, Zika infection can cause microcephaly and other dangerous brain problems. Microcephaly is a serious case when a baby’s head seems to be smaller than expected, in comparison with babies of the same age and gender. Babies with microcephaly tend to have smaller brains which don’t develop properly. Not every infant whose mama has Zika infection is born with microcephaly. Researchers try to find out how often the virus can cause microcephaly once a kid is in the womb. And what Zika may also have a relation to:
- Birth defects, such as problems with the eyes and hearing loss. Birth defects are just health conditions which are still present at birth, which can change the function or shape of one or more parts of the body. Their risk can be clear in how the body develops, how the body works and in overall health.
- Miscarriage is when an unborn kid dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Problems of growth in the womb
- Stillbirth is when a kid dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Congenital Zika syndrome is a group of health conditions clearly present at birth which are linked to Zika infection. It may consist of birth defects and other health and development problems.
What should a pregnant woman do?
As per scientists, there is enough evidence to point that Zika virus infection is mainly a cause of birth defects (including microcephaly). For that reason, expectant mothers should:
- Postpone any unnecessary travel to areas which are at high risk of Zika virus transmission
- Discuss your travel plans with a GP, travel clinic or practice nurse. If travel is unavoidable, you are advisable to take extra care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Don’t forget to use condoms during the sexual intercourse if you and your partner are currently in an area with a risk of Zika virus transmission. If you are now pregnant and have recently come back from an area with active Zika virus spread, check with your GP or midwife and then let her know where you have been. Your hospital doctor or midwife will discuss the great risk with you. Sometimes, she may also do an ultrasound scan of your kid to monitor growth.
Zika virus is usually to be detected by available tests when the symptoms are clearly present. So, if you are experiencing Zika symptoms, it is time to contact your GP, who can decide if investigations are necessary or not. Investigations can include an ultrasound test and a blood test if you are pregnant.
So, the pregnant women should be always cautious of their current condition to as to avoid suffering from Zika virus infection. Although there is no evidence that the virus can influence babies after birth, you should also take care of and protect your kids from being bitten by mosquitoes!