Answers to 7 important questions you should be asking about Zika.
Q1: How can pregnant women be infected with Zika virus?
The primary way that pregnant women get Zika virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito.
Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or at delivery.
Q2: Do pregnant women pass Zika virus to their fetuses?
Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or delivery. There is growing evidence that men can transmit Zika virus to women during unprotected sex.
Q3: What if a pregnant woman is exposed?
We don't know how likely she is to get Zika. If you've been in an area with Zika and become pregnant, you need to be seen by your physician. Men who return from areas with Zika should be seen by their doctor before having unprotected sex with their partner.
Q4: What if a pregnant woman is infected?
We now know that the risk of birth defects from Zika is greatest earlier in pregnancy. About 1/3 of all pregnant women infected by Zika develop birth defects of some type. At this time, approximately 2/3 of all children infected with Zika appear to be normal.
We don’t know how the virus will affect her, or her pregnancy, or how likely it is that Zika will pass to her fetus.
We don’t know if sexual transmission of Zika virus poses a different risk of birth defects than a mosquito bite.
If you are pregnant and live or travel to an area with Zika, you should be seen by your doctor.
Q5: What about Zika and microcephaly?
Since May 2015, Brazil has experienced a significant outbreak of Zika virus. In recent months, Brazilian officials reported an increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly.
Since these initial reports of a link between Zika and microcephaly, researchers across the world began working to study the link between Zika during pregnancy and microcephaly. In a recent article, CDC scientists announced that there is now enough evidence to conclude that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked to problems in infants, including eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. Scientists are studying the full range of other potential health problems that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause.
Other possible causes of microcephaly:
Microcephaly can happen for many reasons. Some babies have microcephaly because of:
1. Changes in their genes
2. Certain infections during pregnancy
3. A woman being close to or touching toxins during pregnancy
Recent media reports have suggested that a pesticide called pyriproxyfen might be linked with microcephaly. Pyriproxyfen has been approved for the control of disease-carrying mosquitoes by the World Health Organization. Pyriproxyfen is a registered pesticide in Brazil and other countries, it has been used for decades, and it has not been linked with microcephaly. In addition, exposure to pyriproxyfen would not explain recent study results showing the presence of Zika virus in the brains of babies born with microcephaly.
Q6: What about other birth outcomes associated with Zika?
In addition to microcephaly, other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. Although Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked with these other problems in infants, there is more to learn. Researchers are collecting data to better understand the extent of the Zika virus’s impact on mothers and their children.
Q7: What about future pregnancies?
In our direct experience with over 1,100 Zika patients in Asia, women who had Zika as a child had normal pregnancies as adults.
From what we know about similar infections in Central and South America, both men and women who have been infected with Zika virus become immune and are protected from future Zika infections.