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Hundreds Focus on Zika Virus Strategy, Science and Pregnancy Recommendations

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Hundreds Focus on Zika Virus Strategy, Science and Pregnancy Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking additional steps to guard against Zika virus, should it begin to be actively transmitted within the continental United States.

On Friday, more than 300 local, state and federal government officials gathered with the CDC for the Zika Action Plan Summit. The attendees worked to identify gaps in readiness and provide technical support to those developing plans to ward off the virus. Organizers say the group also discussed the latest strategies for mosquito control and reviewed scientific data regarding Zika and pregnant women.

“The mosquitoes that carry Zika virus are already active in U.S. territories, hundreds of travelers with Zika have already returned to the continental U.S. and we could well see clusters of Zika virus in the continental U.S. in the coming months. Urgent action is needed, especially to minimize the risk of exposure during pregnancy,” said CDC Director, Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.

The CDC also recently updated it’s guidance on pregnancy and planning in light of the virus’ spread. If a pregnant woman is infected by Zika, experts say the virus can be transferred to the fetus. The virus is being link to an increased number of microcephaly cases, which is a birth defect that causes babies to be born with a smaller brain.

For women and men who’ve been diagnosed with Zika virus or who’ve have symptoms of Zika:

  • The CDC suggests that women wait at least eight weeks after their symptoms first appeared before trying to get pregnant.
  • Men wait at least 6 months after their symptoms first appeared to have unprotected sex.
  • In making these recommendations, the CDC considered the longest known risk period for these categories, experts then allowed for three times the known period of time.

For men and women without symptoms of Zika virus, but who’ve had possible exposure from recent travel or sexual contact:

  • CDC recommends health care providers advise their patients wait at least eight weeks after their possible exposure before trying to get pregnant in order to minimize risk.
  • As a reminder, not all people who contract the virus will show symptoms.

It’s been proven that the Zika virus can spread through sexual transmission:

  • Men with a pregnant partner should use condoms during sex for the duration of the pregnancy.
  • Couples with men who have confirmed Zika or symptoms of Zika should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least six months after symptoms begin.
  • Couples with men who traveled to an area with Zika but did not develop symptoms, should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least eight weeks after their return.
  • Couples with men who live in an area with Zika, but have not developed symptoms might consider using condoms or not having sex while there is active Zika transmission in the area.

If you have additional questions regarding the Zika virus, make sure to consult your UnityPoint Health provider.