The Importance of Contraception to the Zika Fight

Jul 1, 2016

By Julie Beck

Currently there is no vaccine for Zika (though one was just approved for clinical trials), and there is no treatment. When people talk about the response to the outbreak, they primarily talk about mosquito control and bug spray. One might think that medicine has no weapon to offer the average person to fight this disease right now. But that’s not true.

“We don’t know how to prevent Zika, but we do know how to prevent pregnancy,” says Christopher Zahn, the vice president of practice at The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Birth control can’t keep you from getting Zika, but Zika in adults is not that bad. You get a fever, joint pain, a rash, and red eyes (if you get symptoms at all, which most don’t). Some adults do come down with the autoimmune syndrome Guillain-Barré, but while the exact percentage isn’t known, the risk of getting it seems very low. It’s not the adults who need the most protection. The greatest risk is for children born to mothers who get Zika while pregnant—miscarriage and a range of birth defects, including microcephaly, are possible. (As of Thursday, seven babies have been born in the U.S. with Zika-related birth defects.)

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3 comments on “The Importance of Contraception to the Zika Fight

  • Ziki is now in the USA!

    (CNN)The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an unprecedented travel warning Monday, advising pregnant women and their partners not to travel to a small community just north of downtown Miami, where Zika is actively circulating. This is the first time the CDC has warned people not to travel to an American neighborhood for fear of catching an infectious disease, according to agency spokesman Tom Skinner.
    This week, 11 additional people in Florida were found to have been infected with Zika virus after being bitten by local mosquitoes, bringing the total to 15.

    New cases were found by door-to-door surveys of 200 people in their homes and businesses, and they were identified by urine and blood samples that tested positive for the virus or an antibody.

    Late last week, Florida health officials confirmed that four people had contracted Zika from mosquitoes in the same 150-square-meter area. It’s a mixed-use development with upscale as well as economically stressed businesses and homes, which CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said complicates mosquito control efforts.

    That’s why everyone who travels to one of those areas should use insect repellent for at least three weeks after they return.”
    Additional precautions recommended by the CDC about the Miami outbreak include:

    Pregnant women who live in or travel to the area should be tested for Zika infection in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, even if they have no symptoms of the virus.
    Pregnant women and their male and female partners who live in the area should prevent mosquito bites and use proper sexual protection for the length of the pregnancy, or abstain from sex altogether.
    Male or female partners of pregnant women who have traveled to this area should use safe sex measures for the rest of the pregnancy.
    Women and men who have traveled to the affected area should wait eight weeks to conceive after their return, while men with symptoms should wait a full six months.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott wasted no time in asking for CDC assistance.
    “Following today’s announcement, I have requested that the Centers for Disease Control activate their emergency response team to assist (the Department of Health) in their investigation, research and sample collection efforts,” Scott said. “Their team will consist of public health experts whose role is to augment our response efforts to confirmed local transmissions of the Zika virus.”

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  • It looks like Zika is now spreading in the USA!
    Pregnant women have been warned to avoid the international tourist destination Miami Beach, amid cases of the Zika virus.

    Authorities had previously thought the virus was limited to Wynwood, a small area west of Miami Beach.

    Health officials now say five people in Miami Beach have been infected. Florida health officials have been aggressively spraying pesticides there.

    Zika, often spread by mosquitoes, can cause life-threatening birth defects.

    “We’re in the midst of mosquito season and expect more Zika infections in the days and months to come,” Tom Frieden from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday.

    Florida has now had 36 cases of the disease, not counting those that were connected to travel outside the US.

    Known for its Art Deco architecture and expensive shops, Miami Beach attracts millions of tourists each year.

    Critics have said that Florida Governor Rick Scott has been delaying the release of information and downplaying the threat of Zika to protect the state’s billion-dollar tourism industry.

    But Governor Scott said the state was taking every measure to ensure the information they provided to the public was accurate.

    “We recognise the desire for information quickly, but it is important that we conduct our interviews and investigations pursuant to epidemiological standards,” he said.

    Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, said the transmission of Zika in Miami Beach “is the most alarming development yet in the rapidly growing threat of Zika in the United States”.

    Senator Reid along with Governor Scott urged Congress to provide additional funding to the area. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been at odds for months over a bill that would contribute to the aid efforts in Florida.

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  • It looks like human transport systems, and attitudes of “business as usual”, are still spreading diseases (along with invasive species), around the globe with gay abandon!

    Thai health officials have confirmed two cases of microcephaly, a severe birth defect linked to the Zika virus.
    It is the first time in South East Asia that the disease has been linked to the condition, which causes abnormally small brains and heads.

    Several countries in the region have reported Zika cases. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito which also spreads dengue and chikungunya.

    The current outbreak of the disease was first detected in Brazil last year.

    Cases have recently been reported across South East Asia.

    “To summarise we have found two cases of small heads linked to Zika, the first cases in Thailand,” said Prasert Thongcharoen, from the Department of Disease Control.

    The WHO said these were first cases of Zika-linked microcephaly in South East Asia.

    Thailand has confirmed about 350 cases of Zika since January – including 25 pregnant women – one of the highest numbers in the region.

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