The Zika virus continues to make headlines, but as of
mid-August, no cases have been reported in North Dakota. While this is great news for our local
patients right now, pregnant women, and those who may become pregnant in the
next couple of years are advised to take precautions while travelling. The risk of contracting Zika inside the
United States, even in affected areas, is extremely low, but the CDC and the
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) both recommend
avoiding travel to affected areas in the United States and overseas. Certain parts of Florida, Puerto Rico,
American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as
South America, Africa and the Pacific Islands are all currently on the list of
places to avoid.
If travel to an affected area is still unavoidable, it is
recommended to wear an EPA-approved insect repellant that contains DEET and to
treat clothing with permethrin according to label instructions, both of which
are safe to use during pregnancy according to ACOG. Time spent outdoors during dusk and dawn
should be limited, as that is when mosquitos bearing the virus are most active,
however precautions should be taken at all times.
The known effects of the Zika virus, particularly during
pregnancy are fairly well reported, with some of the biggest problems being
significant and debilitating birth defects.
The problem lies in the unknown effects, as the virus is still too
recent to have long-term studies done. The
doctors and staff at Great Plains Women’s Health strongly encourage all men and
women travelling to at-risk areas to take the recommended precautions to avoid
contracting this virus, whether planning to become pregnant or not.