Posts Tagged ‘Zika’

Traveling this summer? Stay safe from Zika

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Summer is travel season for many of us. Before your trip, make sure you’re protected from Zika. The Zika virus is still spreading in certain areas (called Zika-affected areas) around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an interactive world map to show you areas with risk of Zika.  If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, don’t travel to a Zika-affected area unless it’s absolutely necessary.

If you get infected with Zika during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain and health problems. You can get infected with the Zika virus through body fluids, like blood and semen, and through mosquito bites.

If you’re planning to travel to a Zika-affected area, talk to your health care provider before you go about how to protect yourself from Zika. Here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t have sex. If you do have sex, use a barrier method of birth control (like a condom or dental dam) every time.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes. Here’s how:
    • Use an insect repellant, like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Use one with one or more of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535, and 2-undecanone. These ingredients are safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Stay in places that have air conditioning or screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. If you’re in a Zika-affected area and sleeping outside or in a room that doesn’t have screens on doors and windows, sleep under a mosquito net.
    • Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks.

If you’ve been in a Zika-affected area, use bug spray or lotion for 3 weeks after you get back to help prevent Zika from spreading to others.

For more information:

 

Preventing infections during pregnancy

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention month. Here are some ways that you can try to prevent infections during pregnancy.

Wash your hands: Washing your hands regularly can help to reduce the spread of colds, the flu and other infections, like cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Wash your hands:

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • After handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables
  • After being around pets or animals
  • After changing diapers, wiping runny noses, or picking up toys

Prepare food properly: Handle foods safely whenever you wash, prepare, cook and store them. Wash knives, cutting boards and dishes used to prepare raw meat, fish or poultry before using them for other foods. Foods to avoid during pregnancy include raw meat, fish, and eggs and unpasteurized foods.

Get vaccinated: Vaccinations can help protect you and your baby from certain infections during pregnancy. Some vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy, but others are not. Talk to your provider to make sure any vaccination you get during pregnancy is safe. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you get pregnant.

Protect yourself from Zika: If you get infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. It causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain problems. Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and through body fluids, like blood and semen.

  • If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, don’t visit a Zika-affected area unless absolutely necessary.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • If your male or female partner may be infected with Zika, use a barrier method (like 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 virus, see your health care provider right away.

Ask someone else to clean your cat’s litter box: If you have to do it yourself, wear gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done emptying the litter. Dirty cat litter may contain toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. Toxoplasmosis can cause health problems for your baby during pregnancy.

Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs): STIs are infections you can get from having unprotected sex with someone who’s infected. If you’re pregnant and have an STI, it can cause serious problems for your baby, including premature birth and birth defects. Testing for STIs is a part of prenatal care. If you have an STI, getting treatment early can help protect your baby.

Have testing for Group B Strep (GBS): Many people carry Group B strep bacteria and don’t know it. It may never make you sick. GBS in adults usually doesn’t have any symptoms, but it can cause some minor infections, like a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI). While GBS may not be harmful to you, it can be very harmful to your baby. Your provider tests you for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. If you have GBS, you’ll receive IV antibiotics during labor and birth.

Talk to your health care provider: Talk to your provider about how to prevent infections, making sure that you’re up-to-date on your vaccinations before pregnancy, and what vaccinations you need during pregnancy.

 

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Zika

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

This year the theme of  National Birth Defects Prevention Month is Prevent to Protect. This week we will be posting a series of guest posts from MotherToBaby’s Kirstie Perrotta, MPH, Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, MPH, Robert Felix and Susan Sherman of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) Zika Task Force. Each day they will respond to one of the top five questions they receive about preventable infectious diseases and what you can do to prevent exposure during pregnancy.

“It’s 2018! I didn’t even know you could get syphilis nowadays!” Yes, I mentioned the stats about syphilis and other infections that can affect pregnancy to the caller who had contacted me through our free MotherToBaby helpline. I thought, this is a great time to educate her as well as others about a variety of infections. Some infections, like Zika, seem to make headlines every week, while others tend to be discussed much less frequently. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s focus is on infection prevention.

One of our most common Zika questions comes from couples who have just returned home after a tropical vacation: How long do we need to wait to get pregnant after returning from a country with Zika, and what should we do in the meantime to minimize risk? Can we be tested?

Many countries continue to see active transmission of Zika virus from infected mosquitoes. If a woman is infected with Zika during pregnancy, it can increase the risk of microcephaly (small head and brain) and other severe brain defects. It may also cause eye defects, hearing loss, seizures, and problems with the joints and limb movement. That’s why it’s so important for couples who are planning a pregnancy to make sure the virus is completely out of their bodies before they attempt to conceive.

So, how long do couples need to wait? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women who travel to a country with Zika wait at least two months before attempting to get pregnant. If a male partner travels, the CDC recommends waiting six months. Some callers ask, “Why so long? We’re ready to get pregnant now!” Although the virus is expected to leave most people’s blood in about two weeks, this could vary depending on a number of factors including their own immunity. The CDC considers 2 months to be a long enough wait time for women. As for men? Zika has been found in the semen for up to 6 months after a man is first infected. The six-month wait time ensures that men do not pass the virus to their partners during intercourse if it is still present in their semen.

Practicing safe sex is important during these wait times! Since Zika can spread through sexual contact, using condoms or dental dams is recommended every time a couple has intercourse. Don’t want to use protection? 100% abstinence is another option. These safe sex precautions significantly reduce the risk of transferring the virus from one partner to another during these important wait times.

Couples who want to get pregnant right away will often ask, “Instead of waiting, isn’t there a way my doctor can just test me for the virus?” Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not so simple. The CDC does not recommend testing as a way to know if it’s “safe” to get pregnant. For one reason, the virus could have already left your blood, but could still be hanging out in other areas of the body (like semen). In this case, you could get a negative blood test result, but still have the virus. Second, no test is 100% accurate. There’s always a chance that your result could be a false negative, especially if you are tested too soon or too late after returning home from a country with Zika.

So, the bottom line? It’s a waiting game. Couples should follow the CDC’s official recommendations to make sure their pregnancy has the healthiest start possible. Still have questions or concerns about Zika? Check out Zika Central on MotherToBaby.org or call us at 866-626-6847 to speak with a specialist who can assess your specific exposure.

Other posts in the series:

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Listeria

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Toxoplasmosis

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Syphilis

About MotherToBaby 

MotherToBabyis a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or try out MotherToBaby’s new text information service by texting questions to (855) 999-3525. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or connect with all of our resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets.

Prevent infections to protect your baby

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

January is Birth Defects Prevention month. Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. This means that a baby is born with a birth defect about every 4 ½ minutes. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth and can cause problems in overall health, in how the body develops or works. Some infections before and during pregnancy can have serious consequences, including causing certain birth defects. Not all birth defects can be prevented. But there are some things that you can do before and during pregnancy to protect yourself and your baby.

Practice good hygiene

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often.
  • Take precautions when preparing food.
  • Make sure to wash hands after changing diapers or wiping runny noses. Don’t share cups or utensils with young children.
  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards, and turtles.
  • Do not clean a cat litter box during pregnancy.

Talk to your health care provider     

  • Talk to your provider about what you can do to prevent infections, such as Zika.
  • Discuss how to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
  • Make sure you are getting the right amount of folic acid. Most women should be taking 400mcg of folic acid before pregnancy.

Get vaccinated

  • Your provider can make sure that you are up to date on all your routine adult vaccinations before you get pregnant.
  • The CDC recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy: the flu shot and the pertussis vaccine (Tdap) at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is an extremely contagious disease that causes violent coughing and is dangerous for a baby. Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy, to protect their baby.

Prevent insect bites

  • Take precautions to protect yourself from animals known to carry diseases and insects that may carry infections, such as Zika.
  • Avoid travel to Zika-affected areas. Be sure to discuss any travel plans with your provider.
  • When mosquitoes are active, prevent mosquito bites using an EPA-registered bug spray containing one of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IR3535.
  • Wear appropriate clothing when outside, such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt, pants, shoes, & socks.
  • Don’t have sex with a male or female partner who may be infected with Zika virus or who has recently traveled to a Zika-affected area.

And don’t forget that there are many other steps that you can take to get ready for a healthy pregnancy:

Can you prevent infections during pregnancy?

Monday, October 16th, 2017

There are some infections that you can get either before or during pregnancy that may cause complications for you and your baby. You can’t always prevent infections, but here are some tips that can help:

Wash your hands: Washing your hands regularly can help to reduce the spread of colds, the flu and other infections, like cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Wash your hands:

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • After handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables
  • After being around pets or animals
  • After changing diapers, wiping runny noses, or picking up toys

Prepare food properly: Handle foods safely whenever you wash, prepare, cook and store them. Wash knives, cutting boards and dishes used to prepare raw meat, fish or poultry before using them for other foods. Foods to avoid during pregnancy include raw meat, fish, and eggs and unpasteurized foods.

Get vaccinated: Vaccinations can help protect you and your baby from certain infections during pregnancy. Some vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy, but others are not. Talk to your provider to make sure any vaccination you get during pregnancy is safe. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you get pregnant.

Protect yourself from Zika: If you get infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. It causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain problems. Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and through body fluids, like blood and semen.

  • If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, don’t visit a Zika-affected area unless absolutely necessary.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • If your male or female partner may be infected with Zika, use a barrier method (like 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 virus, see your health care provider right away.

Ask someone else to clean your cat’s litter box: If you have to do it yourself, wear gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done emptying the litter. Dirty cat litter may contain toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. Toxoplasmosis can cause health problems for your baby during pregnancy.

Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs): STIs are infections you can get from having unprotected sex with someone who’s infected. If you’re pregnant and have an STI, it can cause serious problems for your baby, including premature birth and birth defects. Testing for STIs is a part of prenatal care. If you have an STI, getting treatment early can help protect your baby.

Talk to your health care provider: Talk to your provider about how to prevent infections, making sure that you’re up-to-date on your vaccinations before pregnancy, and what vaccinations you need during pregnancy.

Have questions? Text or email us at Askus@marchofdimes.org.

Hurricanes and Zika

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Our hearts go out to all those experiencing the devastating effects of the recent hurricanes. In the days after a hurricane when there is widespread flooding, mosquitoes can lay eggs in the left over water. This increases the mosquito population and some of these mosquitoes may spread viruses like Zika.

According to the CDC, “although flooding caused by hurricanes can be severe and an increase in mosquito populations is expected in the coming weeks, CDC does not expect to see an increase in the number of people getting sick from diseases spread by mosquitoes, but will work closely with state and local health officials to monitor the situation.”

Studies show that hurricanes and floods themselves typically do not cause an increase in the spread of viruses. After floods though, more people are spending time outside cleaning up, so they have more exposure to mosquitos. Mosquito bites are the most common way Zika spreads. You can get infected from a mosquito that carries the Zika virus, and a mosquito can get the virus by biting an infected person. The mosquito can then pass the virus by biting someone else.

Zika is a virus that can cause serious problems during pregnancy. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain problems.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Use an EPA registered insect repellant. If the product contains DEET, make sure it has at least 20 percent DEET. Don’t put bug spray or lotion on your skin under clothes.
  • Wear a hat, long sleeves, long pants, shoes and socks.
  • Keep windows and front doors closed,
  • Remove still water from inside and outside your home or workplace. Check flowerpots, buckets, animal water bows and children’s pools. Clean them and turn them over so they don’t collect water.
  • If you are sleeping outside or in a room without screens on the windows or doors, buy a mosquito bed net. Get one that’s approved by the World Health Organization Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (also called WHOPES) and that’s treated with permethrin. If you use a net with permethrin, don’t wash it or put it in the sun.

If you need up-to-date information about caring for babies and children with congenital Zika syndrome, contact Zika Care Connect (ZCC). ZCC helps you find services and providers. You can search the database by things like location, kind of provider, the language the provider speaks and the insurance the provider takes. Use Zika Care Connect to find the right providers to take care of your baby.

We will check for updates as disaster relief efforts continue. Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

 

Heading on a vacation? If you’re pregnant, check our list first

Friday, August 4th, 2017

vacation-family-carSummer is here, which is a busy time for fun in the sun. If you’re like me, your summer schedule is filled up. I’m heading out on a vacation in a couple of weeks.

Whether you are driving or flying, a vacation requires planning and packing. If you’re pregnant, we recommend you check our travel list before you head out the door.

Before your trip:

  • Did you talk to your health care provider already? If not, reach out before your trip. If you have pregnancy complications, your provider may recommend you limit travel or take certain precautions.
  • How do you feel? Many pregnant women like traveling during their second trimester when they don’t have as much morning sickness.
  • Flying? Be sure to check your airline to see if they have a cut-off time for traveling during pregnancy.
  • Print a copy of your medical records, provider’s phone number, insurance cards and be sure to pack your prenatal vitamins and any medicine you need. Pack these in your carry-on luggage or purse.
  • Visit the CDC’s website for travel notices and avoid traveling to areas with Zika.

During your trip:

  • Eat snacks and drink lots of water.  Be sure to wear loose clothes when traveling.
  • If traveling by car, stop and take breaks. Take a loop around the rest area to help keep your blood flowing. If flying, be sure to get up and walk around every hour. You can also do ankle circles while you are sitting, to help prevent swelling in your feet.
  • If you have symptoms such as belly pain or cramps, leg swelling, vaginal bleeding, severe headaches or contractions, contact your prenatal care provider right away.

Taking some extra time before you head out will ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. If you have concerns, reach out to your health care provider and read our article.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Diagnosed with Zika? Help is available

Friday, July 21st, 2017

mom loving babyHave you or your partner been diagnosed with Zika virus? Did you receive a positive Zika test while pregnant? Do you have a baby with Zika? If you answered yes to any of these questions, medical help and support is available.

Zika Care Connect (ZCC), developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with March of Dimes offers a network of specialized healthcare providers who can care for families potentially affected by the Zika virus.

The ZCC network helps you find services and health care providers in your area who take your health insurance and speak your language.

Have questions? Call the toll-free Zika Helpline, 1-844-677-0447, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. If no one is immediately able to answer your call, please leave a message and your call will be returned within 1 business day.

For more information on help and support available to you, check out the Zika Care Connect website: www.zikacareconnect.org.

For everything you need to know about how to protect yourself from Zika, visit our website.

Have questions? Text or email us at mailto:AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

How to prevent mosquito bites

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

The most common way for Zika to spread is through the bite of an infected mosquito. So the best way to protect yourself is to avoid mosquito bites. June 25-July 1, 2017 is National Mosquito Control Awareness Week. The American Mosquito Control Association has some helpful tips to protect yourself and your family and to prevent mosquito bites. mosquito_3D

Drain: keep your environment safe

  • Remove any standing water. Even the smallest of containers can collect water and allow hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes to breed.
  • Check and empty any children’s toys that are outside.
  • Clean pet water dishes regularly.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning.
  • Make sure that screens on doors or windows are intact and do not have any holes.
  • Use mosquito netting across the top of your baby’s stroller or crib to help keep your baby safe from mosquitoes. Keep the netting out of reach of your baby and make sure it doesn’t touch your baby’s face or body.

Dress: wear the right clothing

  • Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. Ankles and necks are especially vulnerable to mosquito bites so make sure they are protected.
  • If hiking or camping, wear permethrin-treated clothes. Do not use permethrin on skin.
  • If you are pregnant or trying to conceive and you work outside, talk to your employer about working inside. If that’s not possible, make sure your clothes protect and cover your skin.

Defend: use insect repellant

The best way to protect yourself against mosquito bites is to use insect repellant. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a spray or lotion:

  • Use one that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All EPA-registered bug sprays and lotions are checked to make sure they’re safe and effective.
  • Use products that contain:
    • DEET
    • picaridin
    • oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Most repellants are safe to use on babies 2 months and older, but check with your baby’s health care provider.  Do not use oil of lemon eucalyptus on children 3 years or younger.
  • Do not wear insect repellant under clothes.
  • Put on sunscreen first before any bug spray.
  • If you’ve been in a Zika-affected area, make sure to use insect repellant for 3 weeks after you return, even if you do not feel sick. This will help to prevent Zika from spreading to others.

Learn more about Zika on our website:

Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Men and Zika

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Couple smiling looking at computerWomen are not the only ones who need to be concerned about Zika. Men need to be aware of how their exposure to Zika may affect their unborn baby. Zika has been found in an infected man’s semen more than 3 months after symptoms began. Semen contains sperm, which is what fertilizes an egg to get a woman pregnant. If a man is infected with Zika and has sex with a pregnant woman, he can pass the virus to her and then it is possible for the virus to pass to her unborn baby.

How can a man prevent a Zika infection?

  • Avoid travel to Zika-affected areas. Men whose partners may be pregnant or trying to conceive, should avoid travel to a Zika-affected area unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • Prevent mosquito bites. If a man does travel to a Zika-affected area, he should avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Continue to use insect repellant for at least 3 weeks after return, to help prevent Zika from spreading to others.
  • Use a condom. When he returns from his trip, it is important to use a condom every time he has sex to prevent passing Zika to his partner. The length of time that you should use condoms depends on your personal situation and concerns. Talk to your provider.

What if a man thinks he may have been infected with Zika?

  • Recognize the symptoms. Illness usually begin 2 to 7 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus. You can be sick with Zika for several days to a week. Signs and symptoms include:
    • Headache
    • Fever (You may or may not have a fever if you have Zika.)
    • Joint or muscle pain
    • Pink eye (also called conjunctivitis) or pain behind the eyes
    • Rash
    • Throwing up
  • Most people who have Zika don’t feel sick or have symptoms. If you think you may have Zika, talk to your health care provider. You can find out if you have Zika with a blood or urine test.
  • If you have Zika, or THINK you may have Zika, be careful not to infect your partner. Use condoms.

What can you do if you’re planning to get pregnant?

  • If a man has been tested for and has Zika, wait at least 6 months after his first sign or symptom of Zika before trying to get pregnant.
  • If a woman has been tested for and has Zika, wait at least 8 weeks from her first sign or symptom before trying to get pregnant.
  • If you or your partner may have Zika but neither of you have signs or symptoms and neither of you has been tested, wait at least 8 weeks from when you think you may have been exposed to Zika before trying to get pregnant.

The CDC recommends that you wait this long to be sure you and your partner aren’t infected with Zika when you try to get pregnant.

If you or someone you know has a baby affected by Zika, the Zika Care Connect (ZCC) website can help. It provides parents and specialists resources and a network of healthcare providers, all in one place.

You can call the ZCC Helpline 1-844-677-0447 (toll-free), Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm EST, to get answers to questions and get referrals to healthcare providers.

See our website for more information on Zika during pregnancy, microcephaly, and congenital Zika syndrome.

Have questions? Send them to our Health Education Specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.