There are no confirmed cases of Zika virus originating in the United States, but local healthcare professionals are preparing for potential cases originating from travel to affected areas. Mosquitoes, which carry the virus, are most common in Central and South America and in the Caribbean.
Zika virus symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and pink eye. Researchers have also connected it to babies being born with Microcephaly, which causes small brains and heads. It can also be fatal to the fetus.
Dr. Patrick Ramsey with the UT Health Science Center San Antonio noted that at this time the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel advisories related to Zika virus infection for pregnant women traveling to or from Mexico and certain countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
The CDC is also recommending that travelers take precautions against mosquito bites.
Dr. Ramsey suggests expectant mothers who travel to affected regions see their obstetrician for additional evaluation when they return.
"Have follow-up ultra sounds every three to four weeks to assess for any signs of small fetal head or calcifications in the brain. And if women do develop symptoms after coming back from such travel, there are some testing modalities available with maternal blood to assess whether she was actually infected or not,” said Dr. Ramsey.
Testing for Zika is being coordinated through the CDC and state and local health departments.