Zika in pregnancy: Small bite, big effects

With the first locally-transmitted cases of Zika popping up in the Miami-Dade area in July, experts are predicting local outbreaks throughout the state. While the disease may cause no symptoms or mild symptoms in adults, it is potentially devastating for unborn babies if acquired by a pregnant woman.

Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Health

There have been six confirmed cases of of the Zika Virus in the Jacksonville area, all travel-related, according to the Florida Department of Health, with the potential for many others to become affected.

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that is spread by the Aedes species of mosquitos. Mosquitos that carry the Zika virus are more active during the day and can survive in both indoor and outdoor locations.

Although mosquito bites are the most common way the Zika virus spreads, having sex with an infected partner, blood transfusions, and pregnancy are also ways of spreading the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mothers who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant should take precautionary actions to
prevent them from becoming infected with the virus. Being infected by the Zika virus during pregnancy has been linked to fetal brain defects that causes problems in infants including eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth.

Although there is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus, there are many ways to prevent being infected, according to the CDC.


  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items.

Insect repellent:

  • Repellents that contain Deet are the most effective during pregnancy
  • Picaridin is an alternative repellent that is safe to use during pregnancy
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than three-years-old.
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two-months old.

Sexual transmission

  • Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex.

Many people affected with Zika will have mild symptoms or none at all. Symptoms could include a fever, rash, joint pain, headache or conjunctivitis (red eyes). If you have experienced any of the symptoms and have been to a region where the Zika virus is present, it is recommended that you visit a physician or healthcare provider and request testing

To get more information about the Zika Virus and possible ways of prevention, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html http://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/zika-virus-and-pregnancy.aspx