Zika mosquito

Zika virus is spread by the Aedes mosquito

The Zika virus continues to generate concern among all people, particularly pregnant women and their practitioners.  With the identification of local transmission within the continental United States, this concern has grown.  The following is a brief overview of information available and links to reliable resources for patients and practitioners.

Zika is a virus transmitted via the Aedes species mosquitoes, sexual relations, and mother to fetus exposure.  Symptoms of the virus are usually mild and may include fever, rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis with a laboratory confirmation of the Zika virus.  The virus can have detrimental impacts on the developing fetus if a pregnant woman contracts the virus, regardless of which trimester infection occurs.  It is important for all practitioners to have access to the most reliable and current information available.

Multiple organizations, including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, Pan American Health Organization, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the Department of Health and Human Services are all providing up to date information, practice guidelines and testing algorithms.

Risk of exposure to the virus is determined by travel to or living near areas with reported local transmission. Zika transmission has been reported in South and Central America, Mexico, The Caribbean and certain parts of Florida. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) maintain current lists of those areas where the Zika virus has been identified. See the CDC website for a list of those areas impacted as well as specific travel advisories or the PAHO site.

Any pregnant woman who has traveled to these areas, or has a partner that has done so, should notify her care provider as soon as possible for follow up.

Practice Guidelines

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a new Practice Advisory on Zika Virus on August 4, 2016.  The practice guidelines addresses risk exposure, travel advice for pregnant women, testing and monitoring after exposure.  You can find this on the ACOG Practice Advisories web pages. The CDC also has available the “Update: Interim Guidance for Health Care Providers Caring for Pregnant Women with Possible Zika Virus Exposure – United States, July 2016”.   This can be also be accessed at the CDC webpage: Clinical Guidance. The CDC maintains an email and phone contact service for questions regarding a possible Zika virus infection or diagnosis during pregnancy.  Call 1-866-626-6847 Monday – Friday 8am to 5 pm. You can also text questions to 855-999-3525. The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) provides current practice information regarding blood donation and transfusions related to the Zika virus.  You can view weekly publications at their website.

West Virginia Zika Update

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services (WVDHHR) has developed a comprehensive website targeted specifically to practice within our state.  The website also contains links to reliable resources such as those provided here and contact information for the state health department.

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