With all of the fear-based news stories in the media about the Zika virus and spring break coming up, we wanted to get a clear picture on what Zika is and how to prevent it so we at Urban Mommies reached out to Dr. Dina Kulik to get some facts and calm some fears.
There are few things that cause as much concern as a virus that can ruin a vacation, when we need it the most. Especially when that virus can weak havoc on unborn children. With the dreaded Zika virus prevalent in the Caribbean, South America and Mexico, many of my patients and friends are debating cancelling their trips. Should you panic? I don’t think so. Here is what you need to know in a nutshell.
Zika virus is spread from mosquitos, and can lead to fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes and muscle pain. Only 1/5 of people that are infected get symptoms and symptoms are typically very mild. Few people with infection require hospitalization and death is RARE. At this time, the highest rates of Zika infection are in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. Treatment for Zika virus is SYMPTOMATIC only; there is no specific treatment. Fever and aches and pains can be treated pain medicine like Acetaminophen and Paracetamol.
Why are pregnant women more at risk?
Infection in pregnant women can potentially lead to congenital microcephaly (small head) in babies whose mothers contracted Zika in pregnancy. At this time, pregnant women are being discouraged from travelling to areas with high Zika infection rates.
How is the Zika virus transmitted and how can I protect my unborn child?
Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. It is not obvious which mosquitoes carry the virus, so preventing all bites is important.
What are signs and symptoms of Zika virus and what do I do if I see them in my family?
Zika causes viral symptoms like fever, headache, eye infections, rash and achy muscles and joints. Blood testing is available if you were in an area where Zika is prevalent and you have the symptoms.
How is Zika virus treated and is it fatal?
Treatment is symptomatic and with pain and fever medication such as Acetaminophen. Zika rarely causes severe illness requiring hospitalization and is almost never fatal.
Are there preventative measures that my family can take to stay healthy and avoid the Zika virus?
Yes! Kids and adults over the age of 6 months can wear Deet containing bug spray (<10% for young children), long sleeves and pants and avoid dusk till dawn when mosquitos are most prevalent. Use mosquito netting on beds, strollers and car seats when available. Remain cognizant of Zika travel zones, especially if you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant soon.
What other important things do I need to know about the Zika virus?
Zika is relatively harmless unless you are pregnant. I would strictly avoid Zika prevalent areas if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, due to the risk to the fetus.
Are you planning on travelling down South? Chat with your doctor!
Dina Kulik is a wife, mother, paediatrician and emergency medicine doctor. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her ridiculously supportive husband, three energetic and delicious sons (age 4, 2, and 2 months) and two hyper male dogs (age 3 and 1). Yes, she has a ‘baby’ a year! Dina is a spin fanatic and adrenaline junky, needing constant stimulation to keep from getting bored (maybe that’s where the kids get it from?). Organized chaos is how she thrives. Sound familiar parents?