Health officials recommend that pregnant women, who travelled to locations where the Zika virus was present, should be tested for the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated Tuesday (Jan. 19) that pregnant women who have two or more symptoms of the disease should get tested for Zika virus. Some of the symptoms include: rash, red eyes, fever, and joint pain.
Symptoms usually occur within two weeks of travel to an area where the infection is spreading – such as Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, French Guiana, Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Martinique, Paraguay, Venezuela, Suriname, and Puerto Rico.
If an ultrasound shows that the baby has microcephaly – a neurodevelopmental disorder in which the infant’s head is abnormally small – that is a red flag that the women should get tested for Zika virus (especially if they have travelled to one of the aforementioned areas where there is high Zika virus transmission).
A week prior to the recent announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advised all pregnant women to postpone any travels to the areas affected by Zika virus. The virus appeared in the Americas not too long ago, and it was spread by mosquitoes.
Researchers in Brazil have found that there is a possible link between microcephaly in infants and infection with Zika virus during pregnancy – which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to make the recommendations. The Zika virus was found in the brain tissue of babies born with microcephaly.
More than 3,500 cases of microcephaly were reported in Brazil from October 2015 to January 2016. On average, there are only about 150 such cases each year, so the current increase is significantly high.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that women who test positive for the Zika virus should then monitor the growth of the foetus every three to four weeks through an ultrasound. There is no commercial test for the virus, which means that local health departments will have to work with doctors to facilitate testing for the patients.
Currently, there is no treatment for the Zika disease. According to the CDC, people who contract the virus are recommended fluids, rest, and medication to reduce fever or pain. Symptoms of the Zika virus do not show in approximately eighty percent of people, researchers said.
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