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Zika in the U.S.: A Pregnant Woman’s Guide


Beware mosquitos. (frankleleon / Flickr)

The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitos and is most dangerous to pregnant women, has been spreading and infecting much of the world, especially in Brazil and other parts of South America. The virus now has a foot-hold in Florida, too. Health officials said Monday that 14 people likely caught Zika in a neighborhood north of downtown Miami.

Officials are currently trying to eliminate the mosquitos in the area: Miami-Dade County and Broward County, but there is concern the mosquitos may have already picked up the virus and are spreading it -- which is why the Center for Disease Control issues a travel advisory to the state of Florida.

The most likely symptoms of the virus are fever, rash, joint pain, headaches, and red eyes lasting for about a week, which is usually mild for most people.

But the World Health Organization and other health organizations have issued an official global health emergency because Zika can cause severe birth defects if a woman is infected at any time during pregnancy.

For a comprehensive guide to what Zika is, check out our non-alarmist list of the 10 essential things to know about the virus.

Anytime there is a medical emergency, it is easy to panic. So let's take a calm look at how to actually be safe.

To start, the chance of getting Zika around Miami is "very, very low," said the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Ashish Jha. But exercising caution is always a good idea, especially if you are pregnant or plan to be pregnant. The 5 most important things to do if you are a pregnant woman in the United States who is concerned about Zika is:

1. Avoid traveling to the small area where cases were found: approximately 1-square-mile area in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami. You should also avoid traveling to any other place the virus has spread.

2. If you are a pregnant woman who has visited, lived in, or worked in the area anytime after June 15 the CDC recommends that you get tested for Zika as a precaution. CDC Director Thomas Frieden also says Couples who have traveled to the affected area should wait at least eight weeks before trying to get pregnant.

3. Practice safe sex. Using a barrier like a condom or dental dam can help protect you against the virus, which can be sexually transmitted.

4. Prevent mosquito bites. Wearing long pants and sleeves as well as bug repellent can reduce your risk of getting bites from infected mosquitos.

5. Talk to your health care provider. If you or your partner have traveled to an infected area and are worried about your risks, even if you don't display any symptoms, it is best to talk with a doctor or professional to make sure you are being safe as possible.

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Zika in the U.S.: A Pregnant Woman’s Guide

Allison Hollender

Allison is originally from Fresno, California, but made her way to the beautiful Central Coast, where she is a student at UC Santa Cruz, earning a degree in both history and politics, working as a reporter for City on a Hill Press, and guzzling gallons of coffee. She is a lover of television and all things Amy Poehler. Follow her embarrassing attempts at jokes on Twitter @alleyrenee16.

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