Zika Virus Guidelines Call For Doctors To Question Pregnant Women

Federal health officials are urging pregnant women to consider postponing trips to regions with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks, and asking doctors to question all pregnant women about whether they have recently traveled to areas such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and other Central America and South America locations. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines for pregnant women during the Zika virus outbreak on January 19, which are directed at both pregnant women who may be traveling while pregnant, and their doctors.

The Zika virus is a mosquito-born disease that can cause fevers, maculopapular rashes, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis. Severe cases can require hospitalization, though deaths are rare. It can also, however, be transmitted to a developing fetus and is suspected of causing miscarriages, although no causal proof of fetal loss has been confirmed.

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The disease, for which there is no vaccine or treatment drug, has recently been detected in 14 different countries in the Americas. While no cases have reportedly been acquired in the United States, some travelers from those other countries, such as Puerto Rico and Brazil, have been diagnosed with the virus once they returned to the U.S.

“Because there is neither a vaccine nor prophylactic medications to prevent Zika virus infection, CDC recommends that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing,” the CDC guidelines state. “If a pregnant woman travels to an area with Zika virus transmission, she should be advised to strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites.”

The CDC advised health care providers to ask all pregnant women about recent travel, and evaluate those who have been to an area with an ongoing Zika virus for possible infection.

Countries in the Americas where Zika virus have been detected include Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Columbia, French Guiana, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Haiti and Martinique.

Treatment for those infected are generally supportive, since there is no specific antiviral medication available. Victims should receive rest, fluids, and the use of analgesics and antipyretics. Fevers should be treated with acetaminophen, the CDC advises.

Studies are ongoing to confirm whether the virus causes fetal loss.


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