If you’re pregnant—or trying to conceive—the Zika virus is probably a top-of-mind concern right now, and with good reason: This mosquito-borne virus is dominating headlines with its scary multi-country advance and potentially devastating consequences for pregnant women and their babies.
Zika surfaced just over a year ago in South America, and Brazil has been disproportionately affected, with thousands of babies suffering severe birth defects, including brain damage, in utero when their mothers contracted the virus. But it has now spread to more than three dozen countries and territories in the Americas, and has recently landed in the United States (although it’s important to note that these U.S. cases were brought by returning travelers from affected regions). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 168 pregnant women in the US and the District of Columbia have been diagnosed with Zika and another 142 have been identified in the US territories, which includes the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Per the CDC, mosquitoes in the continental United States or Hawaii have not spread Zika. However, lab tests have confirmed Zika virus in travelers returning to the United States. These travelers have gotten the virus from mosquito bites and some non-travelers got Zika through sex with a traveler. Cases of local transmission have been confirmed in three US territories: Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
The virus is likely to spread further, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), because the mosquito that transmits Zika is in all but two countries of the Americas, and the people in these regions lack immunity to the virus.
If you’re expecting (and frankly, even if you’re not), it’s crucial to arm yourself with information and up-to-date advice. This is what you need to know: Click here.