A few of you have emailed me about what’s going on with pregnant women in relation to the Zika virus.
Here’s the sitch:
We’ve known about this mosquito-borne illness since the 1950s. It causes symptoms like headache, fever, rash, etc. in your average person, however, it seems to be causing a surge of microcephaly cases in certain areas. This is a condition where babies’ brains stop growing and causes abnormally small heads. From what I can gather, the first trimester is the most dicey time.
There is no vaccine for the virus and avoiding bites from the virus-host mosquito is the only way to prevent infection.
At this stage in the game, the virus has shown up in Africa, Asia, The Caribbean, Central America, North America, South America, and the Pacific Islands. Below is a list of some of the more commonly traveled to destinations where Zika has been identified, but before you go, you might check and see if wherever you’re headed has been added to the list.
The CDC issued a Level 2 warning when traveling to the following countries*:
Africa: 30 different countries including Angola, Sudan, and Uganda (Again, I’m not listing everything because most people don’t fly 30 hours for a 5-day babymoon, but if you do, more power to ya!)
Asia: 14 different countries, including Thailand and Vietnam.
The Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saba, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands.
Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama.
North America: Mexico.
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela.
The Pacific Islands: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga.
*There are three CDC warning levels:
Level 1 – wear sunscreen and use common sense so you aren’t robbed in a dark alley at 2am because you aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Level 2 – There could be some unique health and safety risks in this area but if you want to go, that’s cool, we just wanted to warn you that some no-so-great stuff is going down.
Level 3 – Don’t go. It’s bad and if you end up making the papers, people will read it and say, “Well, what the hell did they expect going to XX?!”
If you live in these countries:
Authorities are beginning to advise women to avoid pregnancy for a while.You know, until they get a vaccine or figure it out a little more – “just sit tight Madame, we’re working on some shit here.” I’m paraphrasing.
If you have travel plans for these countries:
I can fully appreciate the ass ache this presents. Do you skip a glorious sun-filled holiday because a mosquito *might* bite you and that mosquito *might* be hosting the Zika virus, and you *might* get infected with it? You know it’s really easy to say, “it isn’t worth the risk” when it isn’t your amazing vacation and two grand flying out the window.
Do you face a bunch of eye rolls from people saying, “You canceled your dream vacation because you’re scared of a bug?!” – because it’s really easy to say when you’re not the one taking the risk.
The resources I found helpful are here and here and here. Just be sure to pay close attention to your sources when you’re reading around the interwebs – anything that is random and can affect pregnant women is excellent click bait.