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Zika Virus – What Bug Repellent is Safe to Use While Pregnant?

Zika Virus pregnant woman photo

The recent Zika virus outbreak is frightening, especially for expectant mothers. Though the virus itself has mild symptoms, the transmission of the virus from mother to fetus is linked to birth defects in infants. Carried by Aedes mosquitoes, it can also be transmitted by sexual contact.

Protect Yourself from Zika
No vaccine exists for Zika, but by taking precautions, you can minimize your risk of contracting the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging pregnant women and their partners to take strong precautions against mosquito bites.

What Bug Repellent Is Safe to Use When You’re Pregnant?
No repellent is right every time, and no repellent is 100% effective. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), which specializes in research on toxic chemicals, has published a complete guide to Bug Repellents in the Age of Zika.

Check out EWG’s Guide to the safest BUG Repellents

Avoid Travel to Certain Areas
The Zika virus has not spread to most of the US; however, all known cases of Zika in the United States are due to travel. The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid travel, especially to areas with known outbreaks of the Zika virus. If you’re trying to get pregnant, both you and your partner should avoid travel.

If you have recently traveled, schedule a visit with your OB-GYN. Your healthcare provider can test for the virus, even if you’re not symptomatic. The Zika virus stays in the blood for about a week, and in semen for slightly longer.  Based on current information, Zika causes no risk to future pregnancies once it has run its course.

Zika Safety
The CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:

  • Women who are pregnant: Check the CDC recommendations for travel to specific areas such as: Cape Verde, Mexico, The Caribbean, Central America, The Pacific Islands and South America.
  • Women who are trying to become pregnant: Before you or your male partner travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
  • You and your male partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
  • If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to certain areas, either use condoms or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.
  • See CDC guidance for how long you should wait to get pregnant after traveling to specific areas.
  • Men who have traveled to an area with Zika and have a pregnant partner should use condoms or not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during the pregnancy.

Symptoms of Zika Virus
The symptoms of the virus are fairly mild in adults, typically only lasting a few days, but can cause developmental defects in infants. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint Pain
  • Red eyes
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache

Contact your doctor immediately if you may have come in contact with the Zika virus.

At Cherokee Women’s Health, we’re dedicated to keeping you and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy. Please contact our offices if you think you may have been exposed to the Zika virus.