Updated Zika Virus Guidelines When Try to Conceive
While the topic is no longer front-page news, the Zika virus is still a threat to individuals and couples trying to conceive.
The good news is that the rates of Zika virus in the U.S. have rapidly declined since 2016. As of this year, there are only five known cases of Zika virus in the U.S. – and all of those were contracted in other countries. Nobody has contracted Zika in the U.S. via mosquito bites in the past two years (the people who did were located in Texas and Florida).
There is no reason to be afraid or overly worried; remain aware and take reasonable precautions.
The Latest Zika Virus Guidelines
Here is what you need to know about the Zika virus, and how to prevent contracting it while trying to conceive or once you’re pregnant.
It’s primarily a mosquito-borne disease with no known vaccine
Like malaria and West Nile virus, the Zika virus is spread by the Aedes mosquitoes (non-existent in the U.S. contiguous states). That’s why the best prevention method (other than avoiding countries with Zika outbreaks and current Zika cases) is trying to avoid mosquito bites and eradicating mosquitoes from your property.
Other ways the Zika virus is spread:
- From a mother to her developing fetus
- Via sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal, anal, etc.) with a man who has Zika (more on that below)
- Through blood transfusion (although this has not happened yet in the United States)
Most people who have Zika virus do not even know they have it. At worst, they may feel general flu symptoms that disappear within a few days or a week. Currently, there isn’t a vaccine for the Zika virus.
Zika virus is linked to cases of microcephaly and other brain/spine defects
While the virus is relatively benign for most people who contract it, physicians in Brazil were the first to correlate a connection between cases of babies born with microcephaly and other brain/spine disorders and mothers who tested positive for Zika.
As a result, the World Health Organization and nationally-based health agencies such as the CDC have posted warnings, alerts, travel advisories, and other helpful information to prevent the Zika virus’s spread.
The virus lives in semen
One surprising fact about Zika is that it can live in semen, even when the carrier doesn’t seem affected by the virus. Thus, men who travel to areas affected by the virus and their partners should use condoms to prevent transmission if you are trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant.
Restrict travel to countries or regions where Zika is active
If you are trying to conceive or have conceived, it’s wise to avoid traveling in countries where Zika is still prevalent. Again, the CDC maintains an updated travel page showing where the virus is currently active, has been active in the recent past, is no longer active, etc.
As of September 2019, there are zero countries reporting current Zika outbreaks, but several countries do still report Zika infected patients. The large majority of these are tropical destinations such as Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, most of Latin America and parts of Africa, Malasia, India, Indonesia and so on. U.S. territories Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have also reported Zika cases – as well as Texas and Florida.
Again, the team at RRC desires to keep you informed, but in no way wants to incite panic or fear. If you are concerned about Zika and how it could impact your fertility, contact our office to learn more or feel your pregnancy is at risk as the result of Zika virus.
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.