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The Zika Virus and Your Pregnancy

What you need to know.

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If you’ve read or watched the news lately, you’ve heard about Zika. It’s a virus that’s spreading in several parts of the world. For most people, it’s not a problem. But if you get Zika during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. It has been linked to miscarriage and certain birth defects, so it’s a good idea to learn how to keep you and your baby safe.

Key Points

  • You probably don’t need to worry about Zika unless you live in or travel to a place where Zika is spreading, or you have unprotected sex with someone who has Zika.
  • If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, don’t travel where Zika is spreading unless absolutely necessary. If you live in or visit one of these areas, protect yourself from mosquito bites. If your partner may be infected, use a condom when you have sex or don’t have sex at all.
  • If you think you may have Zika, see your healthcare provider right away.


How Zika Spreads

Zika spreads mainly through a bite from an infected mosquito. You also can get Zika by having unprotected sex with a man who is infected or by getting a transfusion with infected blood. And if you’re pregnant and infected, you can pass it to your baby.

Zika is spreading in areas such as Africa, the Americas (including Brazil, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and the Pacific Islands (including American Samoa). Zika has been brought into the United States by people who have visited these places.

Protect Yourself From Mosquito Bites

  • Use an insect repellent (bug spray) that contains DEET.
  • Wear a hat, long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat clothing, shoes and other gear with a bug spray called permethrin, or wear permethrin-treated clothes if you’re spending time hiking, camping or doing other outdoor activities. Don’t use permethrin products on your skin.
  • Put mosquito netting across the top of your baby’s stroller or crib to help keep your child safe from mosquitos. Make sure it does not touch your baby’s face or body.
  •  Stay in places that have air conditioning or screens on windows and doors to keep out mosquitos. Make sure screens on doors and windows don’t have holes in them.
  • Remove still water from flower pots, buckets, animal water bowls and children’s pools. Mosquitos often gather near water.

How Do You Know If You Have Zika?

Most people with Zika don’t get sick. If they do, it’s usually mild. You may have a headache, a rash or joint or muscle pain. You also may have pink eye or pain behind the eyes, and you may throw up. You may have a fever.

There’s no vaccine for Zika, and there are no medicines to treat it. If you have Zika, rest, drink plenty of fluids and take acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain.

If you are pregnant and may have been exposed to Zika, your healthcare provider will test your blood for the infection. She may check your baby’s amniotic fluid for Zika and use an ultrasound to check your baby for signs of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes a baby’s head to be small. After birth, your baby’s healthcare provider checks your baby for Zika, microcephaly and other related health problems.

To learn more, visit: marchofdimes.org/zika or nacersano.org/zika

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Written by The March of Dimes

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