Zika Virus and Planning a Pregnancy

Planning a holiday but worried about Zika Virus? Here are the facts you need to know.

Zika is a viral infection which is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes species mosquitoes.

In May 2015, the World Health Organization confirmed the first local mosquito-to-human transmission of Zika virus in Brazil. The virus spread rapidly through the country. By the end of 2015, the Brazilian Ministry of Health estimated that between 440,000 and 1,300,000 cases of Zika virus disease had occurred.

As of March 23, 2016, there were 39 countries and U.S. territories reporting active Zika virus transmission. Updates on areas with active Zika virus transmission are available online at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

Zika virus has been strongly linked with a serious birth condition called microcephaly, which means a baby born with an unusually small head. In these cases the babies brain may not have formed properly.

It is recommended that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas of ongoing Zika virus transmission if possible.

Most people infected with Zika virus won’t even know they have the disease because they won’t have symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.

Although mosquito-to-human transmission appears to be the main cause of Zika virus infection, sexual transmission is possible. Infectious Zika virus has been isolated from the semen of two men at least 2 weeks after symptom onset.

If you are trying to get pregnant and you or your partner have planned a trip to a country affected by Zika virus it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times.

  • Women and men with possible exposure to Zika virus but who show no symptoms of infection should wait at least 8 weeks after exposure to attempt conception. Possible exposure is defined as visiting an area with active Zika virus transmission.
  • If you are female and you become ill with Zika virus you should delay trying to get pregnant for at least 8 weeks after symptom onset.
  • Men with Zika virus disease should wait at least 6 months after symptom onset to attempt conception.

There is no evidence that Zika virus will cause congenital infection in pregnancies conceived after the resolution of maternal Zika virus.

Further information and guidance on Zika virus can be obtained at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/Factsheet/FactsheetonZikaVirusandPregnancy/

If you are planning fertility treatment you should inform your doctor if you have visited an area affected by Zika virus.

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