Special Precautions for Zika Virus

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Mosquito-Borne Viral Diseases. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Special Precautions for Zika Virus

The CDC recommends that healthcare providers advise patients who may be or are pregnant not to travel to areas where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes. The WHO recommends that anyone who could have been exposed to Zika virus refrain from sex or practice safe sex (condoms) for a period of six months. Their recommendation is based on evidence that the virus may be viable in semen for much longer and that asymptomatic individuals can transmit the virus to their sexual partners.
A vaccine is being developed that has shown good activity in mice and rhesus monkeys. It has been approved for phase 1 clinical trials to demonstrate safety in humans by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This vaccine is a synthetic plasmid vaccine being made by Inovio™, who produced a candidate Ebola vaccine in 18 months. A vaccine to the Zika virus has very high priority because it will be transmitted by mosquitoes in the US.
The following are recommendations from the CDC website for pregnant women:
  • Pregnant women should not travel to these areas.
  • Pregnant women and their partners living in or traveling to these areas should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Women and men who live in or traveled to these areas and who have a pregnant sex partner should use condoms to prevent infection every time they have sex, or not have sex during the pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women and their partners who are concerned about being exposed to Zika may want to consider postponing nonessential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County.
  • All pregnant women in the United States should be assessed for possible Zika virus exposure and signs or symptoms of Zika during each prenatal care visit.
  • Pregnant women who live in or frequently travel to these areas should be tested in the first and second trimester of pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women with possible Zika exposure and signs or symptoms of Zika should be tested for Zika.
  • Pregnant women who traveled to or had unprotected sex with a partner that traveled to or lives in these areas should talk to their healthcare provider and should be tested for Zika.
The CDC recommends that a woman should wait at least eight weeks after possible exposure to the Zika virus before trying to get pregnant. It is not believed that Zika can affect future pregnancies.