If you’ve traveled out of the country recently or you and your family are getting ready to pack their bags, you may be concerned about Zika virus. Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. While there hasn’t been any transmission documented in the US, it has been reported in travelers returning to the US. So what should you and your family know?
- If you’re pregnant, it is recommended to avoid travel to an area with Zika virus transmission. Discuss any travel plans with your doctor, no matter what trimester of pregnancy you’re in. The CDC recommends postponing travel.
- Early intervention is key especially if you’re pregnant. If you already have been to one of these areas, but don’t show any symptoms, it is recommended that you receive an ultrasound to detect microcephaly or intracranial calcifications. Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex, which usually is the result of the brain developing abnormally in the womb. Generally there’s no treatment for microcephaly, but early intervention with supportive therapies, such as speech and occupational therapies, may help enhance your child’s development. It can be diagnosed while the baby is in the womb or after your child is born.
- Make sure your family takes precautions if they are traveling. At this time, there isn’t a vaccine for Zika virus. Precautions to avoid getting mosquito bites may include wearing long sleeves and pants, wear EPA-registered insect repellents and sleep with doors and windows closer or under a mosquito bed net if you’re outside.
- You may not realize you’ve been infected with Zika virus. Only about 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. If you get sick, it tends to be mild. Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis and begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
- Don’t panic. Help keep your family calm if you’re concerned that someone may be infected. If you have traveled to an infected area or have concerns that you may be infected, talk to a doctor. You can always reach a LiveHealth Online doctor 24/7 at livehealthonline.com or download our app at Google Play or the App Store.
Comments and opinions from Dr. Mia Finkelston are hers alone. This is an essay and is not considered medical treatment.