LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Testing for the Zika virus is now available to all pregnant women in New York State, following reports that the virus may be linked to birth defects.
According to a press release from the Livingston County Department of Health, the NYS Department of Health Bureau of Communicable Disease Control issued a Health Advisory on Feb. 4 alerting NYS residents that Zika virus testing now available to all pregnant women in the state.
“There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant,” said the Livingston County Department of Health in the release.
Previously, NYSDOH offered testing only to symptomatic pregnant women who traveled to an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission. New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratories will now begin to provide Zika virus testing for all pregnant women who traveled to an area with the ongoing Zika virus transmission during pregnancy.
Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The same mosquitoes spread Chikungunya and dengue. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters but can also bite at night. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus.
According to our news partner 13WHAM, the Ades mosquito does not live in NYS. However, one Monroe Count resident tested positive for Zika in January. Further research has suggested that the virus may be transmitted sexually as well. The World Health Organization has declared Zika a global health emergency.
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild, so mild that many people might not realize they have been infected. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
Infected people do not usually get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. However, infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through biting. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
In addition to testing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following special precautions:
Women who are pregnant in any trimester should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If they must travel to one of these areas, they should talk to their doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during their trip.
Women who are trying to become pregnant should talk to their doctor beforehand about their plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection and take active steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
For more questions and answers on Zika and pregnancy, see the Centers for Disease Control Questions and Answers here, or contact the Livingston County Department of Health at (585) 243-7299.