What is the Zika Virus
Zika virus disease (Zika) spreads to people mainly through the bite by two species of infected mosquitoes, one of which is more likely to transmit Zika. In past outbreaks, most people have not gotten sick, so people may not even know they are infected. Based on current knowledge, the greatest risk for complications from Zika is to a pregnant woman’s fetus. If a pregnant woman is infected with Zika, she can pass the virus to her fetus. Zika has been linked to cases of microcephaly, a serious birth defect, and is a sign that the baby is born with a smaller brain, which can result in medical problems and impaired development.
On June 23rd the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released updated statistics of pregnant women who had contracted the Zika virus; the count as of June 23rd, 2016 was:
It is important to note-none of the cases in the US and the District of Columbia were acquired in the United States, but instead were travel associated or sexually transmitted.
Puerto Rico Update
Cases in the US territories are unfortunately a different story. Many of the pregnant Puerto Rican women with laboratory evidence of the Zika Virus have contracted Zika on the island. The Chicago Tribune quoting the CDC notes, “Puerto Rico could see hundreds of Zika-infected babies with microcephaly”. The Philadelphia region’s ties to the island of Puerto Rico are quite strong and thus we believe it is important to report about Zika and this US Territory.
New York City Findings
Dr. Mary T Bassett, New York City health commissioner reported, 140 of the 233 reported cases in the City (not all pregnant women) of Zika have originated from travel to the Dominican Republic. We reference this finding because the Dominican Republic is a popular travel destination for many in the Philadelphia region and our close proximity to Greater New York City.
The Scope of Zika
We cite both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico findings to raise awareness and not to stigmatize any specific region, country or group of people. “…with our interconnected world, Zika has the potential to be a worldwide problem that must be addressed immediately medically, socially and politically”, Dr. Maria Tucker noted. She adds, “The US has the financial and medical resources to address this problem, we must now find the social and political will to fast-track a vaccine and create compassionate, long range protocols to treat infants born with microcephaly that also address the emotional toll placed on the parents and families of infants with microcephaly.”
Clinical trials for a Zika vaccine were granted to Inovio of Plymouth Meeting and GeneOne a South Korean company by the FDA on June 19th; the study will involve 40 humans. Vaccine tests on rodents have indicated a one shot protocol has proven effective against contracting of Zika in mice.
- Become educated about the risk but do not become obsessively worried over the risk, remember only 2 known species of mosquitos spread Zika out of 176 species of mosquitos identified in the US.
- Check CDC travel guidance; pregnant women should avoid travel to any area with Zika.www.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.
- Talk to our doctors first, if you must travel to an area with Zika.
- Prevent mosquito bites, including covering up arms and legs and using EPA-registered insect repellent, which is safe to use during pregnancy.
- Use latex condoms, the right way, every time or choose not to have any type of sex if the male partner has been in an area with Zika during the pregnancy.
Our Responsibility To Our Patients
Total Woman Health and Wellness OBGYN is monitoring the spread of the Zika virus and will publish updates on a regular basis as more knowledge of this virus is acquired. The most important medical aspect of this virus update is the now proven scientific link of the virus to birth defects as published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors’ rigorous research concluded that Zika virus:
- Is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects
- Zika attacked newly formed brain cells, filling the cell with virus and stunting the growth of the fetal brain tissue
Do you tweet? Our twitter feed is following these developments check it out.Tags: Microcephaly, Zika virus update for SE Pennsylvania
This post was written by Total Woman Health & Wellness