Managing risk

What do pregnant women need to know about the Zika virus?

A pregnant woman gets an ultrasound in Guatemala. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

As the Zika virus continues its spread, the risk the disease poses to unborn children continues to raise anxiety in women throughout the Americas. Zika, a virus spread to humans predominantly through bites from infected mosquitoes, is actively spreading in over two-dozen countries. Its symptoms include fever, joint pain, rash, and conjunctivitis, but 4 out of 5 people don’t show any symptoms and may not even know they’re infected. The real danger of the virus is the risk to the unborn children of expectant mothers — since October, and the spread of the Zika virus, Brazil has seen 5,079 cases of microcephaly, a condition in which infants are born with an unusually small head that often leads to mental retardation and other complications. Previously, Brazil had seen on average 150 cases of microcephaly a year.

The U.S. has had at least 79 cases of travel-acquired Zika reported, and one sexually-transmitted case in Texas, but has had no reports as of yet of mosquitoes transmitting the illness from person to person. Pregnant women, and women thinking of becoming pregnant, are advised to avoid travelling to areas where the disease is spreading, and to abstain from sex or to use condoms with men who live in or have travelled to a Zika-affected areas. Women who experience symptoms of the virus are advised to seek medical attention immediately.

Read the full story at CBS News.

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