If you live in the New York City area, you may have seen or heard the advertisements about the Zika virus.
There has been an increase in the number of babies born in NYC who have shown signs of the virus.
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports that since January 2017, 402 pregnant women have shown laboratory evidence of the Zika virus infection. Twenty three babies have been born with lab evidence of the infection, and 16 babies have been born with birth defects consistent with Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
It is important to note that all of these cases resulted from either travel to a Zika affected area, or through sex with an infected individual. The majority of the cases are believed to have resulted from travel to the Dominican Republic.
None of the cases are reported to have been due to local transmission, meaning no one became infected as a result of being bitten by a NYC mosquito.
What does all this mean?
Zika is still a threat, especially to pregnant women and babies. If a woman gets infected with Zika during pregnancy, the virus can pass to her baby. It can cause serious birth defects including microcephaly.
The most common way Zika is spread is by being bitten by an infected mosquito, or by having sex with an infected partner.
How can you protect yourself?
- If you are trying to get pregnant, or you are pregnant, do not travel to areas with risk of Zika.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants, using bug spray, and staying in air conditioned buildings. Learn more about how to stay safe from Zika in our article.
- If your partner has travelled to an area with Zika and may be infected, use a barrier method of birth control (such as a condom) every time you have sex or don’t have sex at all.
- If you’re pregnant and think you may have been exposed to Zika, see your health care provider right away.
- If you think you may have been exposed to Zika during pregnancy and you give birth, be sure to let your baby’s pediatrician know, so that your baby can be closely monitored.
- You can find special doctors to care for a baby potentially affected by Zika on the Zika Care Connect website.
We’re closely monitoring the Zika virus and its potential effects on women, babies and entire families. Stay tuned for more updates.