Should you worry about the Zika virus?

Zika has now caused three outbreaks in the Brazos county area, most recently infecting a pediatric patient who had traveled to an area with ongoing Zika transmission.

The virus has infected millions of people across Latin America and thousands have carried it back to the U.S.

It’s the height of mosquito season  and people are beginning to ask, “Should I be worried?”

Here’s what’s known about who should worry about Zika virus:

Pregnant women
By far those at the highest risk are pregnant women. Zika causes a range of birth defects, from brain damage so profound it causes the pregnancy to miscarry, to horrifying cases of microcephaly, to subtler defects of limbs and joints. It’s not yet clear what percentage of pregnant women go on to have babies with birth defects, but studies show pregnancies in all three trimesters can be badly affected. Women who never remember having had symptoms have had their babies affected, as have women who suffer rashes and muscle aches. Doctors now caution all pregnant women to stay away from places where Zika is spreading if at all possible, and if not, to wear mosquito repellent, to cover up with long sleeves and pants, and to stay inside with air conditioning as much as possible.

Women who don’t live in areas where Zika can spread can relax a little but should remember that Zika can be spread sexually and that people can come back infected from Zika zones.

Prevention of Zika virus -from the CDC website

No vaccine exists to prevent Zika.
Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite during the day and night.
Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners. Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex. Condoms include male and female condoms.

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