Dr. Haas is licensed in Texas and takes new fertility patients on the HealthTap platform. Patients everywhere else are welcome to schedule an informational consult.
The Zika virus can have serious implications on fertility and pregnancy for women. If you’re trying to conceive, you need to take the necessary precautions in order to protect yourself and your baby from the Zika virus.
Here are the facts about the Zika virus and how it affects infertility:
What is the Zika virus?
There’s been a lot of buzz around the Zika virus recently; however, it’s not a new disease. The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. The first human cases of Zika were detected in 1952 and since that time there have been outbreaks of Zika reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak has caused the most reaction from around the globe since the 2016 Olympics are set to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Unfortunately, the Zika virus will likely continue to spread to new areas.
The disease is most commonly contracted from mosquito bites. There are two species of mosquito that carry the virus: the A. aegypti and A. albopictus which are usually found in warm weather climates. The virus can also be sexually transmitted to a woman from a man infected with the Zika virus.
Should I be concerned about the Zika virus?
Couples who are trying to conceive should be cautious and steer clear of affected Zika virus areas due to potential side effects on the reproductive organs and infants. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a warning telling women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant “to avoid travel to endemic areas or use enhanced prevention and follow up activity if such travel cannot be avoided.”
If you’re undergoing fertility treatments, you should let your fertility specialist know if you are traveling to an affected region. The doctor may choose to pause your treatments in order to avoid potential side effects to you and the baby.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and there have been no deaths reported due to Zika.
What are the effects?
Scientists at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced that there is now enough evidence to conclude that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly (small head) and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked to problems in infants, including eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth.
How is it diagnosed?
Only one in four infected patients diagnosed with the Zika virus experience symptoms. This means an infected person may be spreading the disease without realizing it. A doctor can perform a blood or urine test to confirm infection of the virus. Couples who have traveled to an affected region should get tested if they have symptoms similar to that of Zika.
Currently, there isn’t a vaccine to prevent or cure the virus but symptoms can be treated with plenty of rest, fluids and Tylenol.
How can I protect myself from the Zika virus?
If you must travel to a location with known cases of the Zika virus, you should take these steps to guard yourself from Zika:
- apply insect repellant all over your body
- wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants
- avoid places with mosquitoes
- stay in places with air conditioning and screens