Zika Virus Affects Pregnancy & Results in Birth Defects

zika virus mosquito photoThe upsurge of Zika virus has brought it in to the discussions yet again quite recently. Issues are raised and questions are asked about the Zika Virus effect on pregnancy and its potential of causing birth defects. Once you have confirmed the pregnancy, you must avoid travelling to the areas famous for the presence of Zika virus.

Zika virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947. It was taken as a benign virus that doesn’t cause much harm, as other viruses prevailing then e.g. Plasmodium that is responsible for malaria disease. This virus is primarily a native of African countries and have been known to be confined there. The virus came to Brazil in 2015 and gained uproar.

Africa is a home and parent country of many such viruses due to its habitat, unhygienic environment, poverty and scarce availability of resources. Until recently Zika virus make a great leap and it is now expected to reach every place in the American continent (except for Canada and Chile). This doesn’t mean it’s an epidemic but the virus has travelled far across and this has increased the chances of its disseminations into multiracial and different geo-political climates.

What is Zika Virus?

It is a virus that is transmitted through the mosquito called Aedes Aegyptus (Aegypti). It causes disease in people with mild symptoms overlapping between viral fevers. The virus can be transmitted through other mosquito species as well.

Do We Need to Worry About Mosquito Bites?

Yes, especially in countries that have a high propensity of rearing this virus. These mosquitoes are mostly found in Southern United States. One must take precautions for avoiding mosquito bites like:

  • The mosquito breeds in small collections of water. Therefore, one must keep his surrounding clean and drain away any pooled water. Clean stationed water must also be avoided.
  • For this one may plant trees and plants in the surrounding of homes. In this way most water will be absorbed in your garden without difficulty.
  • Mend your windows and ceilings and fill the avoidable gaps. Don’t leave clandestine spaces for mosquito to enter.
  • Use mosquito repellents. For technical advices check which one suite your body well and doesn’t cause any harm.
  • Wear sufficient clothes that cover entire skin and doesn’t leave the space vacant for the mosquito to bite.

Read: Health Issues More Common in Women than Men 

What are the Symptoms of Zika Virus?

The symptoms of Zika virus overlap the symptoms of viral fevers. It appears to be similar to other arthropod (mosquito carrying) viral diseases like dengue and malaria.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the symptoms of Zika virus are mild. The virus subsides in two to seven days.

Symptoms may include:

  • A fever of mild grade.
  • A possible skin rash.
  • Aches and pains all over the body e.g. in muscles, joints, back, neck and head.
  • Headaches.
  • Conjunctivitis.

What is the Health Risk of Zika Virus in Pregnancy?

It brings us to the most important question of what are the effects and hazards of Zika Virus on pregnancy. Frankly speaking researches over this virus are in a nascent stage and nothing can be said so surely about it. Broadly the risk perpetrated by in pregnancy can be dangerous either for mother or for baby or for both.

Preliminary statistical data has shown that Zika Virus affects the wellbeing of foetus in a pregnant lady and it may cause microcephaly. Not much is said about other birth defects and that guess about microcephaly is also statistical. However, researches are in progress rapidly and effectively. And we will share them with you when they are published. As explained by Dr. Jeanne Sheffield of John Hopkins that, ‘’Right now we still do not know the true causal link, just there’s an association. And the science behind the association is still being worked out

What is Microcephaly?

Micro means small and cephalic means head. These are Greek words. To sum up it means ‘small heads’. It is smaller than average head circumference in babies.

It’s been found them in regions prevalent with Zika virus microcephaly cases have risen up. Since the virus has spread in Brazil the cases of microcephaly have risen to more than 4000. This is a twentyfold increase as compare to the previous years which is quite alarming. According to another observation in Zika outbreak in French Polynesia in 2013 to 2014 12 cases of microcephaly were identified.

Microcephaly isn’t something new to medical science. A report published by Centres for Disease and Control and Prevention says that in United States microcephaly is observed in 12 in 10, 000 live births. This seems a pretty controlled problem. However, it may increase in the advent off Zika Virus if proper care isn’t ensured.

Does Microcephaly Get Diagnosed and Treated?

Problem in routine pregnancy follow-ups is that microcephaly isn’t very apparent especially in the beginning months on pregnancy. Through Ultra Sounds it is not probable to diagnose microcephaly even till the second trimester). In some cases microcephaly is only discovered after birth when doctor measures the head circumference of the baby.

About treatment for some children it is nothing but a cosmetic problem. For milder cases there isn’t any treatment required apart from the symptomatic treatments for correcting the size of head. In some severe cases it can cause learning disabilities, speech delays, impaired motor functions, difficulty in moving bodies, seizures, short height, dwarfism, etc.

There is no definite therapy for microcephaly but symptomatic treatments ranging from occupational to speech therapy are possible.

Take Precautions During Sex:

As it has been said that the virus may cause birth defects, therefore, precautions must be taken during sex also. This is because there are chances of the virus being transmitted along the sexual intercourse from the male partner. Therefore, pregnant women must take special care in avoiding sexual activities if their male counterparts have just returned from Zika virus prevalent countries. For the women who are not pregnant such should make protected sex by using condoms and abstaining is the better choice if male counterpart has travelled to place with Zika.

The above provided information may change with research. It is not a legal advice and the article is only meant for information. In case of any worries you must consult a doctor.

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