Pune Municipal Corporation has stepped up surveillance measures as Zika virus infection was detected in two patients from Erandwane area in the city. Officials have issued an alert in the five-kilometre radius of Erandwane, saying that Zika infection can cause microcephaly in the foetus in pregnant women and earlier on June 20-21, Zika virus infection was reported in a 46-year-old doctor from Erandwane and his 15-year-old daughter.

Zika virus alert for pregnant women: New measures and updated guidelines for expectant mothers (Photo by Twitter/OphthTimes)

For the uninitiated, the Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, known to transmit infections like dengue and chikungunya, and a majority of those infected with Zika either remain asymptomatic (up to 80%) or show mild symptoms of fever, rash, conjunctivitis, body aches and joint pains hence, the emergence of the Zika virus outbreak has raised significant concerns for expectant mothers.

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‘Take strict precautions’

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Mansi Sharma, Consultant- Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Motherhood Hospital in Kharadi, shared, “The virus, primarily spread through mosquito bites, has been linked to serious health complications, including congenital abnormalities in unborn babies. Pregnant women should avoid travelling to areas with active Zika virus transmission. If travel to these regions is unavoidable, pregnant women are advised to take strict precautions, such as using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing, and staying in air-conditioned or screened accommodations.”

For women who have travelled to Zika-affected areas, the guidelines recommend they be tested for the virus, regardless of whether they have experienced any symptoms. Dr Mansi Sharma advised, “If the test results are positive, healthcare providers may suggest additional monitoring and specialised prenatal care to assess the potential impact on the foetus. Moreover, the new guidelines emphasise the importance of delaying pregnancy for women who have been exposed to the Zika virus. The recommended waiting period varies based on the specific circumstances, but it is generally advised to wait at least 2-3 months after potential exposure before attempting to conceive.”

Zika can causes fatal problems for babies

Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Anuranjita Pallavi, Consultant Gynecologist and Infertility Specialist at Medicover Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, suggested, “Women who are pregnant or who wish to conceive should be alert when it comes to the Zika Virus. Unfortunately, this virus causes a serious birth defect called microcephaly, wherein a baby is born with a small head. Zika also has been known to cause fatal problems in babies, such as eye problems, hearing loss, and seizures. However, there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika. Hence, pregnant women should be cautious and ensure protection from mosquito bites, covering water storage containers, getting rid of the water accumulated in flower pots, keeping the house clean and avoiding travelling to areas where there are Zika virus cases registered.”

These measures aim to protect expectant mothers and their unborn babies from the serious health consequences associated with the Zika virus. By following these guidelines, women can take proactive steps to reduce the risk and ensure the wellbeing of their families during this challenging time.