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Zika and pregnancy

There is a concern during pregnancy with the Zika virus has been linked to a birth defect called microephaly, which means a baby’s head is small and the child has a smaller than average brain. This can affect the child’s motor development and can cause learning disabilities. Other problems include calcifications in the brain, eye problems, and damage to joints and muscles that limit the baby's ability to move.

How is Zika spread?

The Zika virus is spread through the bit of certain types of mosquitoes. Reports of transmission through blood and sexual contact are being investigated. For Utah women who are not traveling to areas where the virus is spreading, the risk of getting a Zika virus infection is minimal. Avoiding travel to those areas is recommended.

What if I have to travel?

If a pregnant woman must travel to one of the affected countries, precautions should be taken. These include using mosquito repellent containing DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and removing standing water. Pregnant women who traveled to those areas should watch for symptoms of infection including fever, headaches, joint and muscle pain, rash, and “pinkeye.” If symptoms are present, they should talk with their doctor and treat the symptoms, especially the fever. Not everyone has symptoms, so women who traveled to those areas where Zika is spread should avoid becoming pregnant for 8 weeks. If their partners traveled to those areas, condoms should be used to prevent pregnant for at least 6 months since the Zika virus can survive longer in men's semen and can be transmitted through sex. A fever, with or without the Zika virus, during the first 30 days of pregnancy can cause other pregnancy problems. The fever should be treated to keep it below 101 degrees.