The Zika virus poses a serious threat to expecting mothers, so it’s more crucial than ever that nurses know how to prevent, detect, and treat this disease. As of now, there is no cure for the disease, and contracting the Zika virus could possibly lead to severe birth defects such as microcephaly. This rare birth defect is becoming more common with rising counts of the Zika virus, so it is our job as travel nurses to ease the minds of worried mothers and take all necessary prevention methods.
On Friday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that at least nine women in the United States have been infected with the virus, all of which have traveled outside of the U.S. during the past nine months. Out of these nine women, five had miscarriages or abortions. In one of the abortion cases, a woman made the choice to terminate the pregnancy after an ultrasound revealed several absent brain regions in the fetus.
“We did not expect to see these brain abnormalities in this small case series of U.S. pregnant travelers,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson, a medical officer at the U.S. Public Health Service said during a report on Friday.
Symptoms of Microcephaly Include
- A significantly smaller head.
- Developmental delays (sitting, standing, walking)
- Decreased learning abilities
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hearing loss
- Vision problems
Fast Facts About the Zika Virus
- The disease is from the Aedes mosquitos
- Zika can be transmitted though sex
- There is currently no treatment available
Symptoms in the Infected
- Fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain, headache
- Symptoms are usually mild and last a few days to a week after being infected
- Once infected, you are likely protected from future infections
Preventing The Zika Virus
- Wear mosquito repellent with DEET, which is safe for pregnant women
- Dump any standing water
- Use a condom during intercourse
- Avoid traveling South where the virus is prevalent
Clinical Evaluation and Treatment
- There is no treatment of the virus, so you can only treat the symptoms
- Get an immediate pregnancy screening if you or a loved one may be infected
- Rest, fluid, acetaminophen
For further information on Zika virus treatment, follow health care provider guidelines.