It’s been a little over a year since the Zika virus came to South Florida. You heard about it on the news constantly, read about it online, and maybe even tuned in to our Facebook live video featuring special guest, OB/GYN Dr. David Lubetkin. So what’s going on with Zika these days? Is there still cause for concern for pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women? Is it safe to visit Florida or spend time outdoors if you’re pregnant? Are babies still at risk?
Let’s start by saying that fortunately, there are no active Zika transmission zones currently in Florida (and haven’t been since 12/9/2016). In 2016, pregnant women and those expecting to become pregnant were told to avoid areas of Miami-Dade county. There are currently no restrictions to travel to Miami-Dade county or other areas in Florida with regards to Zika. There are some areas in the Caribbean, South/Central America that remain active Zika zones, so it’s best to discuss any travel abroad with your OB/GYN.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and answers with some updated recommendations and information from the CDC:
Should my partner and I delay getting pregnant?
Outside of a few specific instances such as one partner having been diagnosed with Zika in the past, delaying pregnancy at this time is not required. Discuss with you our OB/GYN about potentially having a Zika test before trying to conceive if you or your partner meet the specific testing instance criteria from the CDC.
If I’m pregnant, should I avoid travel to Florida?
With no active Zika transmission zones in Florida, travel in and around Florida while pregnant or looking to become pregnant in the near future should not be of concern. It’s still recommended to take standard precautions for all pregnant or soon to be pregnant women. Prenatal vitamins, healthy diet and exercise, sunscreen use, and mosquito repellent while outdoors are all part of a healthy pregnancy.
What if my child is bitten by a mosquito with Zika?
Similar to any non-pregnant adult, children can have symptoms of a Zika virus infection. However, only about 20% of people who are bitten by a mosquito with Zika will develop any symptoms. Symptoms can be fever, rash, joint pains, red eyes, which would typically occur 3-14 days after travel to an area with Zika virus transmission. While we don’t know with 100% certainty if there are any significant long-term risks to contracting Zika virus outside of pregnancy, thus far, the risk for severe health issues have been extremely low if a non-pregnant person contracts Zika virus.
How can I protect myself and my family from mosquitoes?
As the weather in South Florida begins to warm up and spring turns into our never ending summer heat, it’s important to remember that some species of mosquito can bite during the day and night. While outdoors, mosquito repellent should be worn, especially around dawn, dusk, nighttime, and while walking through wooded areas. During the day, sunscreen should be applied first, allowed to dry, and then mosquito repellent put on top.
Recommended mosquito repellents are those that contain one of the following: DEET (up to 30%), picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products. Before using any product on your child or on yourself whether pregnant or not, it is suggested that you discuss with your pediatrician, OB/GYN, or primary care provider.
Are there ways to reduce the number of mosquitoes around my home?
Getting rid of standing water, which includes pool toys, empty planter boxes, tires, or other yard debris which can collect rainwater, is imperative to reduce mosquito breeding. Using screens on any open windows or doors is also helpful to prevent mosquitoes from coming inside.
*With information changing and updating regularly, always remember to speak with your OB/GYN about any concerns or questions regarding your health and pregnancy.*