Are you pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or at risk for an unintended pregnancy? If you answered yes to any of these questions, and you live in a country impacted by the Zika virus, it’s important that you are able to access friendly, scientifically correct, quality information on the virus itself, how to prevent it, and ways to avoid its possible consequences. We can help!

Zika virus: What you should know

According to the World Health Organization:

  • The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. You’ve likely heard about this mosquito before, as it is also responsible for the spread of dengue fever and chikungunya.
  • The Zika virus is not airborne.
  • There have been confirmed cases of sexual transmission of the Zika virus. Sexual transmission is possible even if no symptoms are present.
  • Presence of the virus has been confirmed in donated blood in areas where the virus is active. Other viruses similar to Zika are known to be transmissible through blood, so it is possible that Zika infection can occur through a blood transfusion.
  • Currently there is neither a cure nor a vaccine for the Zika virus.
All individuals affected by the Zika virus have the right to access services that provide information, preventative services, care, and management of the possible consequences of the virus.

Zika virus: What you should know

Zika and pregnancy: What you should know

  • Pregnant people have the same risk of Zika infection as the rest of the population.
  • An ongoing investigation is focused on the possible link between the Zika virus and babies born with microcephaly. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 4,000 cases of microcephaly have been recorded in newborns in Brazil.
  • Although the relationship between the Zika virus and microcephaly is still being studied, it has been confirmed that damaged vaccines given to pregnant women did not cause these cases. Nor were they caused by the use of larvicides by local governments (CombateAedes- Brazilian Government).
  • If you are pregnant, have been affected by the Zika virus, and are concerned about the risk of microcephaly, you have the right to make decisions regarding your pregnancy. For more information, click here.
  • If you are not currently pregnant but are at risk for an unintended pregnancy- for example, lacking access to contraceptive methods or if you are currently in a violent situation that inhibits your use of methods such as condoms- locate a health center that can provide you with support, information, and health services. You have a right to decide regarding your body and to receive information and services regarding reproductive health and preventing unintended pregnancies. To learn more about contraceptive methods, and decide which method is right for you, click here.
  • If you are currently trying to become pregnant and live in a country affected by the Zika virus, it is important that you consider the risk of infection and take appropriate measures to prevent mosquito bites.

El zika en el embarazo: ¿qué debes saber?

Zika virus: Symptoms, consequences, and prevention

Within a period of 2 to 7 days, some or all of the following symptoms may be present:

  • Fever Fever
  • Rash or redness Rash or redness.
  • Conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis.
  • Muscle and joint pain Muscle and joint pain, general malaise, and headache
Zika virus symptoms can be managed with over the counter pain and fever medications and with rest and hydration. If symptoms do not improve, visit a doctor or health center.

Keep in mind that many Zika cases are asymptomatic- 4 out of 5 people infected with the Zika virus experience light symptoms or no symptoms at all.

In order to prevent possible infection with the Zika virus:

  • Protect yourself against mosquito bites using:
    • Clothing that covers your body as much as possible (preferably in light colors in order to increase the visibility of any mosquitos).
    • Regular use of insect repellent.
    • Physical barriers- for example, closed doors and windows and the use of screens.
  • Avoid creating conditions for mosquitos to breed:
    • You should regularly empty, clean, or cover containers that might accumulate water- for example, buckets, barrels, pots, planters, old tires, etc.
  • Protect yourself during sexual relations:
    • Although the likelihood of infection during sex is much lower, the use of a female or male condom helps avoid infection if one member of a couple has been exposed to the virus. Additionally, safe sex using appropriate contraceptive methods also helps prevent unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.

Prevención

Attention!

A significant increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome has been tied to the Zika epidemics in Brazil and French Polynesia. Although the direct relationship remains unclear and additional study is required, the general belief at this point is that they are connected.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves. Muscle weakness and tingling in the extremities are usually the first symptoms. If the respiratory muscles are affected, Guillain-Barré syndrome can become a medical emergency. The majority of people with Guillain-Barré syndrome recover, but some continue to experience weakness.

If you are infected with the Zika virus and begin to experience symptoms associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome, go to your closest health center!

Zika virus: Am I at risk?

  • If you live in and/or have visited the areas/countries affected by the Zika virus, you are at risk of mosquito bites and thus at risk of being infected by the virus.
  • If your partner is male and he lives in and/or has visited the areas/countries affected by the Zika virus, he might have been infected. In this case, there is a risk of sexual transmission of the virus.
  • If you frequent areas that lend themselves to Aedes mosquito breeding- for example, gardens with planters or buckets full of sitting water- you might be at increased risk of mosquito bite, and thus of being infected by the virus.