I’m 6 months pregnant and I was recently bitten by a mosquito―in a “Zika-infested country”. To say I’m concerned about the Zika virus would be an understatement, I’m freaking out.
Fortunately for me, however, I got the chance to speak to Dr. Garrett Garner OBGYN on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano who took a few moments out of his day to answer my questions.
So, we all know the basics about the Zika virus:
- It causes mild flu-like symptoms and babies born with microcephaly, or underdeveloped brains and skulls.
- It is transmitted by mosquito, as well via as bodily fluids—hence the recent case of sexually transmitted Zika.
What you might not know is what this really means for YOU, a mom or expectant mom in Plano or the greater Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
Are Plano moms (and babies) in danger?
“There is no cause for alarm here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area”, explained Dr. Garrett Garner, who went on to say just like with the West Nile virus, which although frightening, really only affected a very small handful of people in our area. In essence, if you’re staying in Plano or have no travel plans that take you (or your sexual partner) to Zika-infected countries, then there really is nothing to worry about.
What if you do have travel plans?
“If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant you may want to delay or change travel plans to heavily infested Zika areas,” Dr. Garner told me. And what if you cannot change your plans? “Then precaution is advised—stay in air-conditioned areas, use bug spray and cover up to avoid mosquito bites.”
And what if (like me) you’ve already traveled to a Zika-infested area?
Well, if you’re not pregnant then there really is nothing to worry about, if you did contract Zika, the symptoms are relatively mild and can be managed with normal remedies for viruses, Tylenol, for example.
However, if you are pregnant, Dr. Garner gives the following advice. “Watch for symptoms: Flu-like symptoms such as joint pain, fever, eye infections and rash. I would also recommend carefully monitoring the baby at your ultrasounds, and of course make sure you tell your doctor.”
So what if you have Zika symptoms?
In that case, your doctor will refer you to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for testing and surveillance. Sadly, however, there is no cure or treatment at the moment.
And finally, what does this mean for ME?
Well for me, as a pregnant woman who has traveled to a Zika-infested area (albeit unknowingly), there is not much I can do. I’ve not had any symptoms and the gestation period (1–2 weeks) has now passed, so fingers crossed my baby and I are just fine. Of course, there is a slim possibility that I did contract Zika and did not get any symptoms… So, I could spend the last 2–3 months of my pregnancy worrying and getting extra ultrasounds to make sure, but at the end of the day with no treatment and no cure, it wouldn’t make any difference. Yes it’s scary, but I’ve decided to be positive and trust that everything will turn out OK.
A big thank you to Dr. Garrett Garner OBGYN at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano for his help and advice.