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South Health District

New Guidance for Testing of Pregnant Women for Zika Exposure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance for testing pregnant women for Zika virus exposure at the end of July. All pregnant women in the United States should now be assessed for possible Zika virus exposure during each prenatal care visit.

According to the health advisory, each evaluation should include an assessment of signs and symptoms of Zika virus disease (acute onset of fever, rash, arthralgia, conjunctivitis), their travel history as well as their sexual partner’s potential exposure to Zika virus, and history of any illness consistent with Zika virus disease to determine whether Zika virus testing is needed.

Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. “It has also been linked to problems in infants, such as eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth,” states William Grow, MD, FACP, South Health District Health Director.

Pregnant women should take all precautions against mosquito bites:

  • Do not travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading (visit www.cdc.gov for a full list), including an area in Miami with active Zika virus transmission identified by the Florida Department of Health.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents. These repellents are proven safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women when used as directed.
  • Empty standing water around your home and office.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning, and window door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible.

“Pregnant women with sex partners who live in or have traveled to an area with Zika should either use a condom or abstain from sex for the remainder of her pregnancy,” says Dr. Grow. “If a pregnant woman has any question about whether or not she thinks she has been exposed to Zika virus, she should consult her healthcare provider as soon as possible.”

For more information on Zika virus transmission, visit www.cdc.gov/zika or contact your healthcare provider.

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