If you’ve consumed any piece of news in the last week, you may have heard about an outbreak of the Zika virus. Warnings urged pregnant women to avoid travel to areas with a large number of cases due to possible birth defects.

It was originally believed that the Zika virus could only be transmitted from mosquito to human, however a recent report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the Zika virus was sexually transmitted from someone who recently visited Venezuela. The report comes out of Dallas, Texas, making it the first case of the virus being locally acquired in the United States.

The virus can live in the blood for about a week, although the CDC is not yet sure how long it would remain in semen.

What is the Zika Virus?

zika virusThe Zika virus gets its name from its origins, the Zika forest in Uganda. It is a mosquito-transmitted infection related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. While it is common in Africa and Asia, it recently spread to the Western Hemisphere.

For most, the virus has no apparent symptoms or long-term effects. Only one in five people infected with the Zika virus develop symptoms, which can include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Red eyes.

Those infected usually do not have to be hospitalized.

The concern comes for pregnant women who develop a temporary form of paralysis after exposure to the Zika virus. This temporary paralysis can result in babies being born with abnormally small heads, a neurological condition known as microcephaly.

What to Do If You Think you May Have the Zika Virus

While the CDC continues to study the sexual transmission of the Zika virus, they suggest; “Sexual partners can protect each other by using condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections. People who have Zika virus infection can protect others by preventing additional mosquito bites.”

If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, you should consult with your doctor.

On January 19, the CDC issued interim guidelines for women in that situation and for their doctors. The guidelines are complex — and may change.

If you have questions or concerns and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our board certified specialists call (407) 647-3960 or click here to request an appointment.