Be ready to answer questions and advise patients appropriately. For full updates on the Zika virus, visit the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1. What is Zika virus?
The Zika virus was first documented in May 2015 in Brazil. The virus is spread to humans via the bite of an infected mosquito, though transmission via blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported. The symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Though rare, there have been cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome in patients with suspected Zika infection.
2. Why is there a travel advisory for pregnant women?
There have been reports of poor pregnancy outcomes and microcephaly among babies of mothers infected with the Zika virus. Further investigation of this causal relationship is ongoing, however, to be cautious, the CDC recommends pregnant women and those trying to conceive avoid travel to areas with documented Zika virus transmission
3. What should I include in my assessment of pregnant patients?
*Ask all pregnant women about recent travel, especially to areas with documented Zika virus transmission
*Ask all pregnant women about the presence of symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease during or within two weeks of travel.
*In those with recent travel, be alert for ultrasound findings of fetal microcephaly or intracranial calcifications. If present, testing for Zika virus infection (in consultation with state or local health departments) is indicated.
4. What should be done if infection with Zika virus is confirmed?
In pregnant women with laboratory evidence of Zika virus infection, fetal growth and anatomy should be monitored via serial ultrasounds. Referral to a maternal-fetal medicine or infectious disease specialist is recommended. There is no specific treatment for Zika virus; supportive care is recommended.
5. How can those who are traveling prevent infection with the Zika virus?
To prevent Zika virus infection, and other mosquito-borne illnesses, recommendations
*Use insect repellants, as directed. (If using both sunscreen and insect repellent, the sunscreen should be applied first).
*Wear permethrin-treated clothing.
*Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
*Keep mosquitoes outside, or if necessary, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
*Empty standing water from flowerpots, buckets, or other containers.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, January 24). Zika virus. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/