If you are pregnant or preparing to have a baby, the Zika virus is probably one of the worries for future mothers. The virus transmitted by the tiger mosquito dominates the entire media, and the devastating consequences should not be ignored at all. Dr. Silviu Istoc, a specialist obstetrician-gynecologist, tells you everything you need to know about this virus.
What is Zika virus?
The virus is transmitted directly through Aedes mosquitoes, the same type of mosquitoes that also causes yellow fever. The name comes from the Zika Forest in Uganda, where the first infected monkeys were found in 1947. The virus appeared in South America, Brazil being the worst affected country, with thousands of children born with microcephaly.
Why is it dangerous?
For those infected with the Zika virus, the symptoms are not very strong. But for pregnant women the effects can be devastating and even include lost the pregnancy or birth of the child with abnormally small size of the skull, the disease known as microcephaly, and abnormalities of brain development in fetuses and newborns of mothers who had been pregnant during Zika outbreaks. Microcephaly is associated with mental retardation and seizures and in some cases can be fatal.
"Because the Zika virus has been associated with an increased risk for the fetus, it is assumed that the effects are indeed caused by the virus. But there are still many unknowns - including how much these infections are transmitted to the fetus or whether certain fetuses are infected, but it does not develop microencephalitis, as often as the loss of pregnancy occurs in women infected with Zika. Although the virus remains in the blood of the infected person from a few days to a week, there is no clear evidence to suggest risks for future pregnancies, "he explains. dr. Silviu Istoc.
How is the Zika virus transmitted?
Zika is usually transmitted through the infected mosquito bite. When a mosquito comes into contact with an infected person, the insect also becomes infected and becomes a carrier. However, there have been confirmed cases of sexual transmission, as well as by blood transfusions. In each case confirmed so far, a man who traveled to the regions affected by Zika transmitted the virus to his partner, but it is not known if the woman can transmit the man's virus.
The Zika virus can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and birth through the placenta, but according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, there are no clinical studies to measure the risk of the fetus if the mother is infected.
"The Zika virus was detected in fetal tissue, amniotic fluid and in the placenta and traces of the virus were also found in breast milk, but since the quantity is very small, it is very unlikely to be a threat," he adds. Dr. Stock
What are the symptoms of Zika virus?
In the vast majority of cases (70-80%), the infection goes unnoticed. When it manifests, the symptoms are flu-like (fever, headache), with rash. Zika virus infection can also be manifested by conjunctivitis or pain behind the eyes, as well as by edema on the hands or feet. Symptoms can last from a few days to a week. It is not known at this time whether pregnant women are more prone to the disease or not. So far, there is no specific treatment.
How do you get tested for the virus?
The Zika virus can be detected in the blood, amniotic fluid or urine, and the results are obtained in a few hours. Because the virus also reacts to contact with other viruses, the test may turn out to be positive, but in fact there is no Zika infection. Therefore testing should only be performed by people who have been exposed and have symptoms.
"Pregnant women who have been in areas exposed to the Zika virus should be tested between 2 and 12 weeks after they return or as soon as symptoms appear. Even women in prenatal care should be tested, and then in the middle of the one. second trimester. Even if no symptoms appear, the fetus should be examined and this is done by ultrasound. If ultrasound problems occur, amniocentesis should be the next step, "adds Dr. Istoc.
How we reduce risks
"Greater attention should be paid to sexual intercourse with a partner who has visited the regions affected by Zika. Couples should use methods of protection during any type of sexual relationship to minimize the risk of transmission or to maintain abstinence during pregnancy. It is unclear how long men should use protective methods because the virus retention in the sperm is not clear, "he explains. Dr. Stock
To reduce risks, here's what you should do:
- Wear long-sleeved blouses and long pants
- Use mosquito spray especially for pregnant women, which contains DEET, an active ingredient.
- If you use protective factor spray, the mosquito spray is used at the end
- I can treat clothes with permethrin, a type of safe insecticide. It does not apply directly to the skin, but only to the clothes.
- Stay as long as possible in air-conditioned rooms and mosquito nets.
Pregnant women (regardless of the trimester), but also those who plan to conceive a child should talk to their doctor before traveling to the affected areas and it would be best to postpone such visits.
Dr. Silviu Istoc is a specialist obstetrician-gynecologist at the Medicover Hospital, within the Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Minimally Invasive Gynecological Surgery and at the Provita Medical Center. You can read more details on www.dristoc.ro and on the Facebook page.