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HICprevent

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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Pregnant with Zika: More Unknown Than Known

May 23rd, 2016

By Gary Evans, AHC Media Senior Staff Writer

While it is now known that some babies born to mothers infected with Zika virus appear to be perfectly healthy, the threat of microcephaly and other birth defects no doubt weighs heavily on 279 pregnant women in U.S. states and territories facing the most horrific aspect of the emerging epidemic.

In surveillance figures that will updated weekly, the CDC reports that as of May 12, 2016, there were 157 pregnant women in U.S. states with laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection. In U.S. territories, there were 122 pregnant women with possible Zika infection.

Public health officials are monitoring pregnant women with possible Zika virus infection – whether asymptomatic or symptomatic -- to better understand the progress of disease and estimate the risk of for adverse outcomes. An established cause of microcephaly and fetal brain abnormalities, Zika has the infamous distinction of being the first known mosquito-borne infection to cause congenital anomalies in humans.

For now there is more unknown than known about Zika virus and pregnancy, including these elements below the CDC lists as currently unanswered. According to the CDC, if a pregnant woman is infected with Zika, “We don’t know”:

  • how the virus will affect her or her pregnancy
  • how likely it is that Zika will pass to her fetus
  • if the fetus is infected, if the fetus will develop birth defects
  • when in pregnancy the infection might cause harm to the fetus
  • whether her baby will have birth defects.
  • if sexual transmission of Zika virus poses a different risk of birth defects than mosquito-borne transmission

For more information on Zika virus check out AHC Media's on-demand webinar: The Zika Virus: Separating Fact from Fiction – A Discussion with Experts. For all the latest AHC Zika coverage, please visit reliasmedia.com/Zika.