During pregnancy, it is important to know how to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. There are two main methods of prevention, and you can also learn about the symptoms of the infection, as well as prenatal tests to determine whether or not you may be at risk for getting it.
Prenatal tests for Zika virus
During pregnancy, the Zika virus can cause a variety of fetal abnormalities. Some of the most common defects include microcephaly, which causes a smaller head size, and eye abnormalities. Other birth defects include developmental delays and neurological impairment.
Zika virus can be detected with a number of tests, including serological tests, nucleic acid amplification tests, and maternal urine testing. However, the effectiveness of these tests can vary depending on the patient and the available resources. A prenatal screening test for ZIKV would not be recommended for all pregnant women, especially those who are asymptomatic.
Zika infection in pregnancy can also lead to premature labor, stillbirth, and other birth defects. In addition, it increases the risk of miscarriage. Consequently, it is important for healthcare providers to monitor the incidence of infections and the community-wide rate of transmission. CDC has published guidelines for managing Zika infection in pregnant individuals. They are available here.
To assess the prevalence of congenital Zika syndrome (CZS), a prospective cohort study was conducted. This study included 92 pregnant women diagnosed with Zika virus infection during pregnancy. These women underwent routine prenatal care and a neonatal evaluation.
There was a positive correlation between prenatally diagnosed microcephaly and neonatal microcephaly in 57% of cases. The major Zika-associated abnormalities were CNS abnormalities, such as calcifications and ventriculomegaly. The positive predictive value of the major Zika-associated abnormalities was 90.9% (95% CI, 57.2%-98.7%). Interestingly, the negative predictive value of the major Zika-associated ultrasonographic abnormalities was 58.2% (95% CI, 49.6%-66.3%).
In conclusion, the presence of Zika-associated ultrasound abnormalities should be considered an indicator of potential neonatal harm. Nonetheless, more studies are needed to better understand the impact of these findings on the prognosis of infants.
Symptoms of Zika virus infection during pregnancy
Symptoms of Zika virus infection during pregnancy are rare but may include fever, joint pain, and red, itchy eyes. In severe cases, the baby could have a birth defect known as microcephaly. Typically, a baby with microcephaly has a smaller head than usual, and there may be other health problems, such as seizures. The virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito.
Women who have been exposed to the virus in the first trimester have a higher risk of having a baby with a birth defect. If your provider believes you are at high risk for having a child with a birth defect, they may refer you to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. These specialists are trained to care for high-risk pregnancies.
Your provider may do a blood test or urine test to check for the presence of the Zika virus. This can be done at your first prenatal visit or a little later. You might also need an ultrasound to see if your fetus is developing normally. This is usually done at around 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
You should wait at least eight weeks after you have been exposed to Zika to try to conceive a baby. If you have been exposed to Zika, you should use barrier methods during sex. This includes using condoms or dental dams. If you do decide to conceive, you should abstain from sexual activity for at least six months after you were exposed.
You can reduce your risk of contracting the Zika virus by wearing long pants, long sleeves, and mosquito repellent. You should also stay indoors in a home that has air conditioning.
Prevention efforts for pregnant women
CDC officials advise pregnant women and couples to avoid traveling to areas that are experiencing Zika outbreaks. However, pregnant women must also make sure they take the necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites. These include wearing insect repellent and wearing long pants and long sleeves. Using a bed net and staying in air-conditioned homes are also recommended.
CDC Foundation launched the Zika Contraception Access Network (ZCAN) in Puerto Rico in 2016. The island-wide network of OB/GYNs provided a full range of reversible birth control methods. The CDC subsequently downgraded travel warnings for pregnant women in these areas.
Americares has worked in many regions of the world to ensure that reproductive health clinics have supplies, medicine, and support for prevention programs. In El Salvador, Haiti, Colombia, and other countries, the organization has distributed educational materials and protection kits. It is also working to ensure that these clinics are equipped with the support they need to offer birth control counseling.
The CDC has updated its guidance on reducing the spread of Zika. It has recommended that all pregnant women in the United States be tested for the presence of the virus. In addition, the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services has authorized states to cover preventative measures through Medicaid.
The CDC Foundation has also launched the Zika Prevention Kit. This product provides an initial supply of prevention tools to help educate pregnant women about Zika. It includes information on the virus, a phone number, and a chat line.
A recent study of postpartum women in Puerto Rico showed that nearly all of them removed standing water and used mosquito repellent. While most of the women did not put up screens, there were some that did. The study found a similar frequency for bed net use.
Prevention efforts for men with possible Zika virus exposure
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that men who may have been exposed to Zika wait 6 months before attempting conception. This recommendation is in line with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance. However, gaps exist in the CDC recommendations and offer an opportunity to develop new initiatives to address men’s reproductive responsibility.
The CDC and American Medical Association (AMA) are partnering to provide a free webinar based on a recent study. This study looked at 85 pregnancies of women who may have been exposed to Zika and whose offspring were born with severe neurodevelopmental anomalies.
Several of the women who participated in the survey reported that they had sexual activity during their pregnancy. In addition, most participants had at least a high school education. These findings indicate that men should be educated about the risk of exposure to the virus and the full range of contraceptive options.
The CDC also recommended that couples wishing to conceive should abstain from sexual intercourse during their entire pregnancy. This includes both sexes the male and female partners. If both parties have had unprotected sex, they should have ready access to emergency contraceptive services.
For people who live in areas of active Zika virus transmission, CDC advises using condoms during all sex. The CDC also recommends that pregnant women who have traveled to Zika-infected areas should use condoms for at least 2 weeks after returning home.
Additionally, the CDC suggests that men who have been exposed to Zika should not have sex for at least three months after their last possible exposure. The CDC says that this is to avoid the risk of transmitting the virus to pregnant women.
Non-vector transmission of Zika virus
Despite the emergence of the Zika virus in recent years, outbreaks have been relatively rare. This is largely due to the lack of effective diagnostic tools and surveillance. However, there have been some small outbreaks in Asia. These have been associated with a change in ZIKV phenotypes, which could have led to increased transmission in some peridomestic mosquitoes.
The most widely distributed ZIKV-infected mosquito is Aedes dalzieli. Other Aedes species may also act as ZIKV vectors in certain environments, such as urban settings. Several mosquito species, including Aedes furcifer and Aedes vittatus, are likely enzootic vectors in Africa. Moreover, Aedes albopictus is suspected as a bridge vector for reverse spillback in Asia.
In addition, Aedes aegypti has been found in associated with human habitation. It is estimated that it is the principal vector for urban ZIKV transmission worldwide. Further research is needed to evaluate its impact on the global epidemic.
The diversity of nonhuman primates, as well as the presence of a large number of species in the Amazon Basin, underscores the need for more information on the susceptibility of ZIKV to animal hosts. Additionally, additional studies investigating differences in viral RNA signatures might help to define alternative routes of infection.
Sexual transmission has been found to be an alternate route of infection. In a mouse study, 73% of male mice were responsible for at least one sexual transmission event. It is unknown how much risk is associated with sexual transmission, compared to mosquito-borne transmission.
The placenta plays a critical role in preventing pathogen transmission to the fetus. Furthermore, the maternal immune response can limit the spread of pathogens to the fetus. Therefore, it is essential to prevent infection by practicing safer sex and using barrier methods during sex.
Health A to Z. (n.d.). HSE.ie. https://www2.hse.ie/az/
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Directory Health Topics. (n.d.). https://www.healthline.com/directory/topics
Health A-Z. (2022, April 26). Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/health-a-z-4014770
Harvard Health. (2015, November 17). Health A to Z. https://www.health.harvard.edu/health-a-to-z
Health Conditions A-Z Sitemap. (n.d.). EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/conditions/