Posts Tagged ‘Zika’

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.

Get outdoors but know how to protect yourself

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Family walking outdoorsTomorrow is National Get Outdoors Day. Now that the weather has warmed up, getting outside is a welcomed change in most parts of the country.

But getting outdoors has its own set of challenges – from bug bites to sunburn. Here’s a quick rundown on how to stay safe when heading outdoors, especially if you’re pregnant.

Bugs that bite and spread diseases

Ticks – In many areas of the country, especially wooded areas or places with high grass, Lyme disease is spread by ticks. Untreated Lyme disease can have cause complications during pregnancy.

Mosquitos – If you’re traveling, be sure to check the CDC’s map to see if the Zika virus is active in the area where you are heading. The Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and through body fluids like blood or semen. If you’re pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, don’t visit a Zika-affected area. Zika virus during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.

What should you do?

Use an insect repellant (a product that keeps insects from biting you), like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (also called EPA). All EPA-registered bug sprays and lotions are checked to make sure they’re safe and work well.

Make sure the product contains one or more of these substances that are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535 and 2-undecanone. If the product contains DEET, make sure it has at least 20 percent (20%) DEET.

Don’t put bug spray or lotion on your skin under clothes. If you use sunscreen, put it on before the spray or lotion.

If you have children: Most bug sprays and lotions are safe to use on babies 2 months and older, but don’t use products that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years. Don’t put the spray or lotion on your baby’s hands or near her eyes or mouth. Don’t put the spray or lotion on cut, sore or sensitive skin.

Protect yourself from the sun

Nothing will stop your outdoor fun faster than a nasty sunburn. Sunscreen is important whenever you are outside, especially if you are pregnant. During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

What can you do?

Before heading outside, lather up with a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Use only products that have UVA and UVB or Broad Spectrum protection products. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors and reapply every 2 hours.

If you’re sensitive to sunscreens, try one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as they are not as irritating to the skin. You can also cover up by wearing long sleeves and pants, and a wide brimmed hat.

Don’t use products that combine bug repellant with sunscreen. It’s important to reapply sunblock every two hours. If you use a combination product, you’ll be reapplying the bug repellant chemicals as well – not good. Too much bug repellant can be toxic. So, to be on the safe side, keep these products separate, or use the combination product once, and then apply sunblock only every two hours afterward.

Don’t choose a product with retinyl palmitate, especially if you are pregnant. This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with birth defects.

Check the expiration date and don’t use it if it is expired. If your sunscreen does not have a date, write one on your bottle after purchasing. Sunscreens retain their original strength for three years.

Here are tips for keeping your baby safe while outdoors.

With a little planning and care, you can get outdoors and enjoy yourself tomorrow. Enjoy!

 

Zika in New York City

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

New York CityIf 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.

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

 

Zika Care Connect website offers access to specialists

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Mom & BabyA new website has been created specifically to help families affected by the Zika virus. It’s called Zika Care Connect (ZCC).

ZCC offers a network of specialized healthcare providers who can care for families potentially affected by the Zika virus.

Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with March of Dimes, the ZCC features resources for families as well as healthcare providers.

Through the ZCC, parents and providers can locate and find specialists to provide the unique care a pregnant woman or a baby with Zika needs.

ZCC helps pregnant women and parents of Zika affected babies (patients):

  • find services and providers in their location who take their insurance and speak their language;
  • find resource tools such as fact sheets and Zika checklists;
  • get answers to questions through a HelpLine as well as the FAQ page.

All ZCC network healthcare providers can:

  • stay up to date on the most recent clinical guidance issued by the CDC in order to manage and care for patients with the Zika virus;
  • receive patient resource tools including downloadable materials;
  • make and receive referrals to/from other providers within the ZCC network.

Why is the ZCC important to babies affected by Zika?

It is important that babies born to a mother who tested positive for Zika be evaluated thoroughly after birth, and regularly as they grow. Some babies do not show signs of being infected with the virus at birth, but they may have developmental problems as they get older. This is why babies need to be continuously monitored. If they need specialty care, it is important that affected babies receive help as soon as possible.

If a baby is born with a Zika-related birth defect, developmental delay or disability, parents may feel overwhelmed by their baby’s complex medical needs. They will require support and guidance as their baby receives medical care from multiple providers. Healthcare providers need to work closely with one another and the family, to monitor the baby’s development and coordinate care.

The ZCC can help parents and specialists by providing resources and a network of healthcare providers, all in one place.

Check out the Zika Care Connect website:  www.zikacareconnect.org.

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.

With ZCC, pregnant women and families may now get the medical help and support they need.

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Zika travel guidance – an update and helpful tools

Monday, March 20th, 2017

airplaneThe CDC recently updated its Zika travel guidance. March is a time when many people get away from the snow, ice and cold and thaw out in the sunshine of a southern climate. But, before you hop on a plane, it is best to do a little homework first and find out where the Zika virus may be a threat.

An interactive world map will show you areas of Zika risk so that you are able to make an educated travel decision. The map shows international destinations as well as U.S. territories.  You can search for location-specific Zika information and travel recommendations.

Another helpful tool is CDC’s Know Your Zika Risk (scroll down the page to use the widget).  It will help you determine the risk of Zika for each person in your household and assist you in making informed decisions about your health.

If you are going to visit family or a friend in an area with Zika, the CDC tells you what you need to know before, during and after your trip, to keep you and your family safe.

Remember

  • If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, do not travel to an area with active Zika.
  • Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby and can cause serious birth defects.
  • Even men need to protect themselves from Zika, as it can be passed through semen.
  • At this time, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika, and no known cure.

Prevention and protection is key. Learn more on our website.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org for a personalized reply from a health education specialist.