Preg­nant or try­ing? Don’t let Zika virus guard down

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

The Zika virus may not seem as big a threat as last sum­mer but don’t let your guard down es­pe­cially if you’re preg­nant or try­ing to be. While cases of the birth de­fect­caus­ing virus have dropped sharply from last year’s peak in parts of Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, Zika hasn’t dis­ap­peared from the re­gion and re­mains a po­ten­tial threat. It’s hard to pre­dict how much risk peo­ple face in lo­cales with smol­der­ing in­fec­tion, or if cases might spike again. For now, preg­nant women still are be­ing urged not to travel to a coun­try or area with even a few re­ported cases of Zika, be­cause the con­se­quences can be dis­as­trous for a fe­tus’ brain. “It’s part of the new re­al­ity,” said Dr. Martin Cetron of the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. Those try­ing to con­ceive, and their part­ners, are ad­vised to check with their doc­tor on how long to wait af­ter vis­it­ing a lo­ca­tion with ac­tive Zika in­fec­tion.

There are lin­ger­ing ques­tions, too, about Zika’s risk be­yond preg­nancy, enough that US sci­en­tists just be­gan study­ing ba­bies in Gu­atemala to learn if in­fec­tion af­ter birth also might dam­age the brain. The chal­lenge is get­ting those mes­sages to the peo­ple who most need it when Zika is fast re­ced­ing from the pub­lic’s radar - even as money may be dry­ing up to track the virus and the ba­bies it in­jures.

Mos­quito sea­son in full swing

In the past month, Puerto Rico and Brazil, hard hit by Zika last year, de­clared their epi­demics over. But smaller numbers of in­fec­tions con­tinue around the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to the CDC and the Pan Amer­i­can Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion. “Zika hasn’t gone away,” said CDC act­ing di­rec­tor Dr. Anne Schuchat. “We can’t af­ford to be com­pla­cent.” The US Zika Preg­nancy Registry counts 1,963 preg­nant women in US states who had lab tests show­ing Zika in­fec­tion since of­fi­cials be­gan count­ing in 2016, and another 4,107 in US ter­ri­to­ries.

Since the begin­ning of June, 271 preg­nant women were added to the registry’s Zika count, 80 of them in US states and the rest res­i­dents of US ter­ri­to­ries, al­though it’s not clear when they be­came in­fected. What about not preg­nant trav­el­ers? CDC has counted 140 cases so far this year in US states, all of them who had symp­toms. The vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who get Zika don’t no­tice symp­toms, yet still are po­ten­tial spread­ers of in­fec­tion if mos­qui­toes back home bite them and then some­one else. —AP

BRAZIL: In this file photo, Aedes ae­gypti mos­qui­toes, re­spon­si­ble for trans­mit­ting Zika, sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz In­sti­tute in Re­cife, Brazil.—AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.