Posts Tagged ‘Zika’

Don’t forget about Zika

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

woman window 2Just because it is winter in many parts of the U.S. does not mean that Zika has gone away. You still need to take appropriate precautions and be prepared. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other brain problems in your baby. It also may be linked to other birth defects and pregnancy loss. Pregnant women and their partners need to take special care to protect themselves from Zika infection.

Travel

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, it is best for you and your partner to avoid travel to a Zika-affected area. So if you are planning travel to any tropical climates this winter, make sure you check the CDC website to see if your destination is affected with Zika.

Currently, Zika-affected areas include:

  • The United States, including Puerto Rico. Zika had been spreading by mosquitoes in parts of Miami-Dade County, Florida, but there have been no new cases of people infected by mosquitoes there recently. The CDC says pregnant women and their partners who are worried about being exposed to Zika may want to postpone travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County unless travel is absolutely necessary. The CDC also says that pregnant women may want to postpone travel to Brownville, Texas, because several cases of Zika have been reported in this area.
  • Africa
  • North, Central and South America
  • Pacific Islands

Zika can be sexually transmitted so it is important to use a barrier method of birth control (like condoms) if your partner has recently traveled to a Zika-affected area.

Prevent mosquito bites

If you or your partner do travel to a Zika-affected area, it is important that you both protect yourselves from mosquito bites. Here’s how:

  • Use an insect repellant that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Always follow the instructions on the product label and make sure the product contains one or more of these substances that are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding:
    • DEET (at least 20%),
    • picaridin,
    • oil of lemon eucalyptus,
    • para-menthane-diol,
    • IR3535.
  • Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks.
  • Stay in places that have air conditioning or screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • 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.

Getting pregnant

If you or your partner have or may have Zika, when is it OK to get pregnant?

According to the CDC:

  • If you have signs or symptoms of Zika, wait at least 8 weeks from your first sign or symptom before trying to get pregnant.
  • If you think you were exposed to Zika but don’t have signs or symptoms, wait at least 8 weeks from when you think you were exposed before trying to get pregnant.
  • If your partner has signs or symptoms of Zika, wait at least 6 months from his first sign or symptom before trying to get pregnant.
  • If your partner has been exposed to Zika but doesn’t have signs or symptoms, wait at least 6 months from when he thinks he was exposed before trying to get pregnant.

The CDC recommends that you wait at least this long to be sure you and your partner aren’t infected with Zika virus when you try to get pregnant. Zika infection usually stays in your blood for a few days to a week, but it has been found in an infected man’s semen more than 3 months after symptoms started.

Remember, most people who have Zika don’t have signs or symptoms. If you think you or your partner may have Zika but haven’t had signs or symptoms, talk to your provider.

As the spring and summer approach, make sure you continue to check our web article and the CDC website. We cannot predict when or where a Zika-outbreak may occur, so once mosquitoes are biting, make sure you are taking the appropriate precautions and protecting yourself.

Prevent to protect: talk to your health care provider

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Pregnant woman talking with doctorJanuary is Birth Defects Prevention month. In the United States, a baby is born with a birth defect every 4 ½ minutes. Some infections before and during pregnancy can have serious consequences, including causing certain birth defects. Talking to your health care provider is an important way that you can help prevent infections and protect you and your baby.

During your preconception checkup or your first prenatal visit, talk to your health care provider about:

How to prevent infections

  • Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially when preparing food or caring for young children.
  • Take precautions to protect yourself from animals known to carry diseases and insects that may carry infections, such as Zika.
  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards, and turtles.
  • Do not clean a cat litter box during pregnancy.
  • 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 (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 travelled to a Zika-affected area.

Vaccinations before pregnancy

It’s best to be up to date on all your routine adult vaccinations before you get pregnant. These vaccinations are recommended before pregnancy:

  • Flu. Get the flu vaccine once a year before flu season (October through May). There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four flu viruses that are likely to make people sick during the upcoming flu season.
  • HPV (human papillomavirus). This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts. The infection also may lead to cervical cancer. The CDC recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine.
  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). This vaccine protects you against measles, mumps and rubella (also called German measles). Measles during pregnancy can cause miscarriage. Rubella can cause serious problems during pregnancy, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.
  • Varicella. This vaccine protects you from chickenpox, an infection that spreads easily and causes itchy skin, rash and fever. During pregnancy, it can be dangerous for a baby and cause birth defects. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and haven’t had chickenpox or been vaccinated for it, tell your provider.

Vaccinations during pregnancy

The CDC recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy:

  • Flu shot if you weren’t vaccinated before pregnancy. You can get a flu shot at any time during pregnancy.
  • 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.

Remember, preventing infections before and during pregnancy can help to keep you and your baby safe. Speaking with your healthcare provider can help you become as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy.

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

 

Looking for a New Year’s Resolution? We’ve got 9 for you.

Friday, December 30th, 2016

“Your health before and during pregnancy has a direct impact on your baby,” says Dr. Siobhan Dolan, the March of Dimes medical advisor and co-author of Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby: The Ultimate Pregnancy Guide. “The good news is that there are many things you can do as a mom-to-be that can protect your own health and help you have a healthy baby.”

Birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you are pregnant or planning a baby this season, make a New Year’s resolution to be as healthy as possible.

Here are Dr. Dolan’s 9 New Year’s Resolutions for moms-to-be:

  1. Take a daily multivitamin containing the B vitamin folic acid, even if you’re not trying to become pregnant. Getting enoughmultivitamin folate or folic acid before pregnancy can help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine. It’s a good idea to eat foods that contain folate, the natural form of folic acid, including lentils, green leafy vegetables, black beans, and orange juice. In addition, some foods are fortified with folic acid, including enriched grain products such as bread, cereal, and pasta, and certain corn masa products such as tortilla chips and tacos. Be sure to check package labels.
  2. Be up-to-date with your vaccinations (shots). Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccinations you should receive before or during pregnancy.
  3. Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, raw or runny eggs, unpasteurized (raw) juice or dairy products, raw sprouts — or products made with them.
  4. Handle food safely. Be sure to wash all knives, utensils, cutting boards, and dishes used to prepare raw meat, fish or poultry before they come into contact with other foods.
  5. Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before preparing or eating foods; after being around or touching pets and other animals; and after changing diapers or wiping runny noses.
  6. Do not put a young child’s food, utensils, drinking cups, or pacifiers in your mouth.
  7. Protect yourself from animals and insects known to carry diseases such as Zika virus, including mosquitos. Find out more at ZAPzika.org.
  8. Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards and turtles during pregnancy.
  9. Let someone else clean the cat litter box!

Besides taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid to prevent birth defects of the brain and spine, women can take the above steps to avoid infections that can hurt them and their babies during pregnancy. Foodborne illnesses, viruses, and parasites can cause birth defects and lifelong disabilities, such as hearing loss or learning problems.

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month – the perfect time to learn what you can do to have a healthy pregnancy. We’ll have posts every week on different birth defects topics. So, be sure to be on the look-out for more info!

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

 

Traveling for the holidays? Pack your bug spray (or check travel advisories first)

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

travel-by-airTis the season to book a relaxing vacation, or maybe a long weekend to visit family. If you’ve already pulled out your suitcase to start packing, take a minute to check your destination for Zika travel advisories. If you’re traveling to a Zika affected area, you may need to do some extra planning.

If a woman gets infected with Zika during pregnancy, she can pass it to her baby. It can cause a birth defect called congenital Zika syndrome and may cause other developmental problems. But even if you’re not pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant soon, you still need to learn how to protect yourself from Zika. Even men need to protect themselves from Zika.

The areas where Zika has had cases of local transmission (acquired through a mosquito bite) are being updated continually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For example, recently, health officials in South Texas believe they have identified their first locally transmitted case of Zika in a woman living in Brownsville. This is in addition to cases found in Florida, as well as many other places in the world.

The CDC has travel advisories posted for Zika affected areas – check them before you hit the road.  

Remember, if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider before you travel. When traveling to an affected area, keep up to date on what to know BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER your visit to keep yourself and your family safe!

And don’t forget to sign up to receive Zika updates for your destination with CDC’s new text messaging service. Text PLAN to 855-255-5606 to subscribe.

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

 

Got Zika questions?

Friday, December 9th, 2016

The March of Dimes is pleased to announce our partnership with Mother-to-Baby. Together, we are able to provide answers to your Zika questions by phone, email, text or live chat. Check this out:

MOD and mothertobaby org infographic ENG

Please reach out to us with your concerns. Our teams of trained health information specialists are available to answer your questions. Be sure to see our resources to learn how to keep yourself and your family Zika free.

 

Zika virus case believed to be found in Texas

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Aedes aegypti mosquitoHealth officials in South Texas believe they have identified their first locally transmitted case of Zika virus in a woman living in Brownsville.

A locally transmitted case means that the person who got the Zika virus did not get it by traveling to a place where it is commonly found nor did the person have sex with someone who has the virus. She also did not get it through a blood transfusion or in a lab setting. In other words, it was most likely spread by an infected mosquito.

Texas health officials have set up surveillance sites in the Brownsville area where the infected woman lives, to test mosquitoes for possible infection. They are also trying to find out if anyone else in the area has been infected with the virus.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. said “Even though it is late in the mosquito season, mosquitoes can spread Zika in some areas of the country. Texas is doing the right thing by increasing local surveillance and trapping and testing mosquitoes in the Brownsville area.”

The CDC’s press release states: “As of Nov 23, 2016, 4,444 cases of Zika have been reported to CDC in the continental United States and Hawaii; 182 of these were the result of local spread by mosquitoes. These cases include 36 believed to be the result of sexual transmission and one that was the result of a laboratory exposure. This number does not include the current case under investigation in Texas.”

Now that the cold weather has arrived, you may think that the Zika virus is a thing of the past. But, this announcement of a likely locally transmitted case of Zika should be a reminder that Zika is still here, and it is still a threat.

If a woman gets infected with Zika during pregnancy, she can pass it to her baby. It can cause a birth defect called microcephaly, congenital Zika syndrome, and other developmental problems.

Read why Zika is harmful to pregnant women and babies, and what you need to know to keep you and your family safe.

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

 

CDC’s 8 fast facts about Zika if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

microcephalyIf you get infected with Zika during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as microcephaly, and other brain problems. Here’s what the CDC wants you to know:

1. All pregnant women in the United States should be assessed for possible Zika virus exposure and signs or symptoms of Zika during each prenatal care visit.

2. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye). Other symptoms could include muscle pain and headache.

3. Zika virus is most commonly spread through mosquito bites.

4. Zika virus may be passed through sex by a person who carries the virus, even if he or she never develops symptoms.

5. For women and men who have been diagnosed with Zika, have symptoms, or have had possible exposure to the Zika virus, CDC recommends that women wait at least 8 weeks before trying to get pregnant, and that men wait at least 6 months before trying to get their partner pregnant.

6. In addition to microcephaly, doctors have found other problems among babies infected with Zika virus before birth, such as missing or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing problems, and impaired growth.

7. Zika also may be linked to miscarriage and stillbirth.

8. Zika virus has been found in breast milk, but there are no reports of babies getting infected with Zika from breastfeeding.

Researchers are collecting data to better understand the extent of the Zika virus’ impact on mothers and their babies.

Share these facts with friends, family, and coworkers. For more information about Zika, please visit cdc.gov/PreventZika or our web article. 

Thanks to the CDC for sharing these facts, so you can protect yourself and your family from Zika.

Photo courtesy of CDC.

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

What happens to babies who were exposed to Zika?

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Growing Up After Zika

To learn more about Zika, including how to stay safe, see our web article.

March of Dimes honors CDC Director for work protecting moms and babies from Zika

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Dr. Frieden, Dir. CDCToday, Dr. Frieden received the March of Dimes President’s Leadership Award for serving as a champion in the fight against Zika. This award is given to acknowledge very high levels of achievement in preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Dr. Frieden is receiving it for his outstanding leadership in combatting Zika and raising public awareness of its threat to newborn health.

The March of Dimes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been working together for many years to protect moms, babies and families from diseases and to promote good health. Since the Zika outbreak, March of Dimes and CDC have joined forces to spread the word about the devastating impact of this virus on pregnant women and babies.

Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, Director of the CDC, is at the helm focusing national and global attention on this virus. Zika can cause microcephaly and other brain problems, and is linked to miscarriage and stillbirth.

Dr. Howse, President of March of Dimes says “We’re giving Dr. Frieden this award to show our gratitude for his dedication to preventing Zika virus infection during this epidemic. His decisive actions and strong voice for protecting women and families from serious birth defects caused by Zika are at the heart of our mission.”

Thank you Dr. Frieden. Together we will continue educating the public on how they can protect themselves from Zika.

To learn more about the Zika virus – where it is in the world, its impact on pregnant women and babies, and what you can do to stay safe – visit marchofdimes.org/zika.

If you have questions, send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We’re here to help.

 

How I Got the Zika Virus and How You Can Too: Protecting Yourself and Your Family

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Aedes aegypti mosquitoToday’s guest post is written by Bethany Kotlar, MPH, of Mother To Baby -Georgia. Her personal experience with the Zika virus is important to share with others.

As a teratology information specialist, I counsel women and their families on medications, chemicals, herbal remedies, and illnesses that could harm developing babies. So as the Zika Virus, a viral infection that can cause severe birth defects including microcephaly (a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected, and may indicate a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy), spread from the Polynesian Islands, to South America, to the Caribbean, I made sure to educate myself on everything we know about the virus, reading article after article and keeping up to date on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s) recommendations to avoid infection, knowing that eventually I would need this information to counsel a pregnant woman or her family. I never imagined I would use this information to try to prevent becoming infected myself, and that I would fail.

One week in February I opened an email from my in-laws with the subject “30th Birthday Plan.” My husband’s 30th was a few weeks away, and I was excited to see what they had planned. As I read the email detailing a week-long sailing trip in the Caribbean I felt blessed, and honestly a little scared. I rushed to the CDC’s page on Zika to look up whether the islands we were visiting had outbreaks. Sure enough-16 Caribbean islands, including the two we were visiting, had Zika outbreaks. At first I didn’t want to go, which set off an intense inner debate racked with guilt. “How could I say no to a surprise trip for my husband, especially one planned and paid for by my in-laws?” I thought, and in the next second, “But what if I get Zika? I work with pregnant women, I can’t expose them!” Finally, my Dad stepped in. “You’re too adventurous to let Zika scare you away from a vacation.” he said. “Fine,” I thought, “I’ll go, but I’m going to be careful.”

I was careful. Despite the gentle teasing from my in-laws, I insisted on sleeping indoors with the windows closed, even though it was more comfortable outside. I wore bug spray with 30% DEET when I thought mosquitos would be out. I got three or so bites at dinner one night, and three more at the end of our trip. As we headed home I mentally patted myself on the back; “Only six bites,” I thought, “pretty sure I didn’t get Zika!” I was so sure that three days after our trip when I developed a head-to-toe rash I was certain it was an allergic reaction, but after three doses of Benadryl did nothing, I googled Zika-related rashes. Dead ringer. Symptoms of the Zika Virus include rash, joint and muscle pain, red eye, fever, and headache, and boy did I have them. I rushed in to see an infectious disease doctor, who came to the same conclusion. “My money’s on Zika,” he said. Suddenly everyone wanted a piece of me; my blood was sent to the county board of health, Emory’s lab, and a lab in Washington for testing.

A call from the county board of health confirmed what my aching joints hinted at: I tested positive. My first thought was to thank my lucky stars that I have access to safe, reliable birth control. My second was to start worrying about those around me. I had brunch with a pregnant friend before I had symptoms-could I have given her Zika? Thankfully, the answer is no (more on that below)! I was amazed at how a short vacation and six bites could give me Zika. I thought about all the people going to the Caribbean for vacation. How many of them are pregnant or could become pregnant while traveling? Would they wear bug spray? Would they recognize the symptoms? How many are men who could get Zika and then unknowingly transmit it to their sexual partner? How many people are walking around not knowing they were infected? I called my friend and begged her to wear insect repellant for the rest of her pregnancy.

As of July 27, 2016, 1,658 cases of Zika, including 433 pregnant women have been confirmed in the continental United States; 4 cases of local transmission have been reported in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in Florida. There are likely far more cases since most people don’t have symptoms, so never get tested. Zika is mostly spread through mosquito bites, but can also be spread through sex, blood transfusions, or from a mother to baby during pregnancy. We don’t know how long the incubation period (the time between when you get infected and when you see symptoms) is, but it is likely a few days to weeks. For most people the virus stays in the blood for about a week, but some people still have the virus in their bodies for as long as two months. Currently, the only Zika outbreak in the continental United States is in a small area of Dade County, Florida, however, the mosquitoes that can carry Zika are found in some areas of the US, making a Zika outbreak in the U.S. very possible. You can follow these steps to protect yourself:

1.  If you are pregnant or could be pregnant (planning a pregnancy or not using birth control), don’t travel to a country with an active Zika outbreak. You can find a list of current outbreaks here.

2.  If your partner has traveled to a country with an active Zika outbreak and you are pregnant, use condoms correctly every time you have sex for the rest of your pregnancy. Why, you might ask? Because Zika can stay in semen longer than in blood, but we don’t know exactly how long it stays there. To be as safe as possible, the CDC recommends using condoms for 6 months.

3.  If your partner has traveled to a country with an active Zika outbreak and has symptoms of Zika (rash, fever, headache, joint pain, and conjunctivitis) use condoms correctly whenever you have sex and avoid pregnancy for at least six months. If he does not have symptoms, use condoms and avoid pregnancy for at least two months.

4.  If you have traveled to a country with an active Zika outbreak and you are not pregnant, avoid pregnancy for at least two months. The Zika virus can also be transmitted from a woman to her sexual partner. Because of this, use condoms and/or a dental dam when you have sex for two months. Do not share sex toys.

5.  If you are currently pregnant, avoid mosquito bites as much as possible by wearing bug spray outdoors (bug spray with at least 30% DEET is preferable; for information on the safety of DEET during pregnancy, see here), wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, closing windows or using windows with screens, and removing any standing water from around your house. Two things to remember: the mosquitos that spread Zika are daytime biters and like to be indoors, and they can breed in pools as small as a bottle-cap.

MTB-headshot_BethanyKotlarIf you have questions about the Zika virus or you have been infected or exposed and want free up-to-date information about what this could mean for a current or future pregnancy, you can contact a MotherToBaby expert by phone at (866) 626-6847, by text at (855) 999-3525, or by live chat or email by visiting www.mothertobaby.org.

Bethany

You can also send your questions to the March of Dimes at AskUs@marchofdimes.org and view our web article on Zika. Thanks again to Bethany for sharing her story.

Note: since the writing of this blog post, more cases of Zika have been reported in Florida. The CDC website has updated, detailed information.