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  • Sponsored Q&A

    Ask Dr Charlotte: How dangerous is zika virus in pregnancy?

    Each month Healthshare asks our followers to ask questions around a health topic. Our in-house GP, Dr Charlotte Middleton picks a handful of them and provides answers in a video. February topic was PREGNANCY AND BIRTH.
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    • Dr Charlotte Middleton
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  • Special interests: integrative health (nutrition/vitamins/supplements), certified GAPS nutritional practitioner, womens and childrens health, endocrine disorders, weight loss, autoimmune disease View Profile

    Zika virus is the topic of great interest at the moment, particularly for pregnant women or women hoping to become pregnant. While the symptoms of the disease are usually very mild, there are concerns that pregnant women who become infected with the Zika virus could transmit the disease to their unborn babies, with potentially serious consequences. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain, called microcephaly, in babies of mothers who had the virus while pregnant.

    A lot of research is being conducted at the moment to establish if there is a direct link between the Zika virus and microcephaly and while that is happening, health practitioners around the world are taking a cautious approach and advising women who are pregnant (no matter what trimester) or who are planning on becoming pregnant to avoid travelling to the areas that have had the most recent outbreaks. That includes South and Central America, Mexico, The Caribbean, Samoa and Tonga.

    If you have travelled to these areas and you were pregnant at the time, or you’re concerned that you might have contracted the Zika virus, you need to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

    It should also be noted that there’s a number of communicable diseases around the world that pose particular risks to pregnant women, not just the Zika (i.e. Malaria). If you’re planning on travelling at all while pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you do need to take precautions and preventative measures against mosquitoes. The best people to talk to are the travel doctors who can advise you on what you need to do to protect yourself while away.

    What is the Zika virus?

    Zika is a Flavivirus, closely connected to dengue, transmitted to humans mostly through a certain breed of mosquitoes (Aedes) found in the tropical or subtropical regions of the world, including North Qld and some areas of Central Qld.

    The symptoms of the zika virus are usually very mild and people either won’t even know they have been ill or think they’ve got a very mild illness, and that resolves very quickly. Some of the symptoms may include a low grade fever, pain in the small joints of the hands and feet, muscle aches and pains, headaches, conjunctivitis, a rash. Quite often after the infection people can feel extremely tired and have a loss of strength and energy.

    So far in Australia we haven’t had many cases of the Zika. There have been a couple of them reported in NSW and QLD, from travellers coming back from the infected areas outside of Australia, but there were contained immediately. The bottom line is that there’s no need to be alarmed here in Australia.

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