The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947. Zika virus disease is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The illness is usually mild with symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain) lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.
On Feb. 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. The CDC issued a travel advisory to pregnant women recommending they postpone travel to Mexico, Puerto Rico, parts of the Caribbean, Polynesia, Central America and South America due to the presence of the Zika virus.
Zika during pregnancy has been associated with birth defects, specifically significant microcephaly. This is a condition where the infant gets infected inside the uterus and is born with an abnormally small head due to incomplete brain development. There is currently no vaccine or medication to prevent Zika virus infection.
We recommend that pregnant women avoid travel to any area affected by this pandemic and to adhere to the CDC travel advisory (wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices). For pregnant women who reside in, or must travel to areas affected by the pandemic, CDC-recommended precautions should be taken to minimize mosquito bites.