Zika: What you need to know
Zika infection during pregnancy has been linked to a serious birth defect called microcephaly, which is a sign of incomplete brain development. It has also been linked to miscarriage, stillbirth, and other birth defects. Many people infected with Zika won’t show symptoms or show only mild symptoms, including but not limited to; muscle and joint pain, red eyes, fever, rash and headache.
As you may already know, Zika spreads primarily through infected mosquitos, but you can also get Zika from sex. A person infected with Zika—even if they don’t show symptoms—can transmit the disease during sexual intercourse. Symptoms last several days to a week, but because they are mild in nature, it’s important that you take the following precautions, especially during pregnancy.
Prevent mosquito bites, prevent Zika infections
Use insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. When possible, stay indoors or in places with screens and air conditioning. Be sure to steer clear of standing water in and around your home.
Do not travel to areas with risk of Zika
If you or a loved one has recently returned from an area with high risk of Zika, take steps to prevent mosquito bites for at least three weeks to prevent the spread of the infection to mosquitos. Mosquitos can become infected by biting an infected person and can then transmit the disease to others, increasing the risk of infection for those around you.
Protect yourself and others
Spouses and domestic couples should take extra steps to practice safe sex if one partner has recently traveled to an area with risk of Zika—especially if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Zika can remain in semen for months after infection—much longer than in other bodily fluids. Use condoms as well as oral protection to reduce your risk, or eliminate the risk of contracting Zika from sex entirely by abstaining from sexual intercourse for at least six months if the affected partner is male, or eight weeks if the affected partner is female.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask a healthcare professional.
See the CDC website for even more information.