The news of the Zika virus is a terrifying experience to most people.
Indeed, there are plenty of uncertainties about the disease during pregnancy, and the information keeps changing rapidly.
However, one of the most important things you should be aware of as an expecting mother is that if you reside in the continental US, chances of contracting the Zika virus are slim at the moment.
Here’s what you need to know about Zika and the measures you should take in order to protect yourself and your baby.
What is Zika Virus?
Zika virus is a disease that is generally transmitted through mosquito bites.
Most people fully recover from the illness without any acute complications, and death or severe illness from the virus are uncommon. However, it can be very dangerous for pregnant women’s infants.
Health experts are also investigating Zika’s connection the Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare and serious disorder where the immune system damages an individual’s nervous system from which majority of patients recover.
Why pregnant women need to be warned about the Zika virus
When an expectant woman becomes infected with the Zika virus, it may spread to the fetus.
In Brazil, the number of Zika infection cases and microcephalic babies increased around the same time.
That potential link is the reason medical experts suspect that a Zika infection during pregnancy may result in this rare birth abnormality.
Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition where infants are born with abnormally small heads and occasionally small brains.
The condition may be associated with serious developmental problems too, and in some cases, result in death.
The highest risk imposed on the fetus is believed to be when the expectant mother is infected with the Zika virus during the first trimester.
Zika infection during pregnancy is also believed to damage an infant’s vision. A small study has linked the disease to severe eye abnormalities in newborns.
The observed effects appear to be slightly different to those doctors normally see in babies born with the Microcephaly disorder from other causes.
Symptoms and Signs of Zika Virus
The common symptoms of the virus include rashes, fever, red eyes, headaches, pain behind the eyes and muscle and joint pain.
Only one in five people with the disease end up exhibiting the symptoms.
The symptoms, which are usually mild in nature, often don’t show up immediately.