Zika Virus Safety, new Guidelines

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by,

Suzanne Coleman, MD

People in both Ohio and Indiana have recently tested positive for the Zika virus.  These people had recently traveled to countries where there are higher incidences of the virus.  Zika is now known to be in several states in the US.  As such, it makes sense to use caution and educate yourselves about the risks of this virus.  The main concern is that pregnant women who are infected with the virus have a much higher risk of their baby being born with microcephaly, a severe malformation.

I have just received some updated recommendations from the Indiana Dept. of Health regarding how to try and stay safe from the Zika virus while pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the US currently:

This advice is for people whose sexual partners have been exposed to Zika:
Male suspected Zika patients should also be advised to abstain or use condoms during sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) until test results are available.”
I would also add that pregnant patients should avoid contact with female sexual partners who have been exposed as well, or use similar barriers to condoms.
In addition, in order to avoid the possibility of spreading the virus to others around you, they offer this good advice:
“Suspected Zika patients should be advised to avoid mosquito exposure for one week by remaining indoors in an air conditioned or screened environment or by wearing EPA-registered insect repellents when outdoors.”
Earlier recommendations included avoiding travel to areas with high rates of Zika virus infection for those who plan to become pregnant or are pregnant.  There are additional details on this and other situations on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov.
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An earlier report can be found here:
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Breaking News: Zika can be Sexually Transmitted

Doc's Corner graphic

by,

Suzanne Coleman, MD

According to medscape.com, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just announced a confirmed case of Zika virus infection which was caused by sexual contact with an infected person.

Zika is the virus which has been linked to microcephaly in newborns in many areas, especially in Brazil, over the past few months.  The CDC has recommended that women take precautions if they are pregnant or may become pregnant.

Now that they know that Zika can be transmitted via sexual contact, more information is needed on how this can be prevented so that people do not become infected.  Avoiding all sexual contact with someone who may be infected is the wisest choice until more information is released.  The CDC does not say whether or not a condom will stop a partner from becoming infected.

This also brings up the question of whether or not the virus can be transmitted between people by other means, like kissing, sharing food or drinks, shaking hands, coughing/sneezing, etc.

Other questions include:  Why has this suddenly become so problematic, as this virus has existed for years if not longer?  If someone is infected, do the virus and its effects clear up after the person gets better, or is this a longer-term problem?  Hopefully the CDC will publicly release additional details as soon as they have them.

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