What is the Zika Virus?

February 22nd, 2016

Zika virus and pregnancyYou’ve probably heard about it in the news: the Zika virus. But what exactly is it? This mosquito-transmitted infection started spreading last May in Brazil and has since transferred to areas across the Western Hemisphere. It is a difficult infection to diagnose, because it rarely shows symptoms. The good news is that only one in five people infected with the virus develop symptoms, such as joint pain, rash and fever, but they usually don’t need to be hospitalized.

The real threat comes when a pregnant woman contracts Zika.

How Does the Zika Virus Affect Pregnancy?

The Zika virus doesn’t cause lasting harm in most individuals; however, scientists are concerned about women who become infected while pregnant. In October in Brazil, scientists noticed that a lot of babies who were born to women infected with the Zika virus had microcephaly, or unusually small heads and damaged brains.

Scientists are unsure of how Zika causes brain damage in infants, but the data doesn’t lie. Normally, there are only about 150 cases of microcephaly reported each year in Brazil –– scientists are currently investigating nearly 4,000 cases.

Microcephaly is very concerning because there is currently no treatment for this birth defect, just therapies to manage the condition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women avoid the Caribbean, Central America and South America due to the outbreak of Zika currently found in those countries.

Get Answers to Your Questions About Zika at Highland OB/GYN

Interested in learning more about the Zika virus, and how you can protect yourself and your baby from this infection? Contact Highland OB/GYN today to speak to one of our Fayetteville, NC obstetricians. We look forward to helping you feel confident and relaxed during your pregnancy.