OB/GYNs address pregnant patients' Zika concerns

- Doctors are used to getting questions from soon-to-be mothers about what to expect when they're expecting, but breaking down the risks of the Zika virus to patients is the new concern at the top of many moms-to-be's lists. 

"The main question would be, is this anything I should worry about?" said Dr. Marilyn Fudge, an OBGYN at Bayfront Health in St Petersburg.

Dr. Fudge said none of her patients have shown signs of the Zika virus, but some patients at the hospital have expressed concerns about traveling to their doctors.

Even if they're just taking a trip to somewhere here in the states, they usually ask if it's OK," said Dr. Fudge.

On February 1, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus to be a public health emergency.

The virus is known to be especially dangerous for pregnant women. It is believed to cause birth defects, including a shrunken head in infants.

Bay area doctors are following guidelines set by the CDC and recommend pregnant patients do not travel abroad to the most affect areas, such as the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Women who are nearing birth are less at risk than those in the early stages of pregnancy, according to doctors.

"The most concern is during the first trimester or the early parts of the pregnancy, so that usually would mean very early on, prior to 13-14 weeks of being pregnant," Dr. Fudge explained.

Studies have not shown the Zika virus to have a long-lasting affect in the body. Researchers do not believe women looking to get pregnant in the distant future will have an issue due to Zika. There is also no evidence that the virus can be passed from mother to baby through breast feeding.

"The benefits outweigh the risk, and there has been no known cases transmitted through breast milk," said Jared Sutton, Director of Infection Control at Bayfront Health.

For people wanting a blood test for Zika, local hospitals were only testing those who exhibited symptoms of the virus, such rashes, fever and nausea, in addition to having recently traveled abroad.

Only about 20-percent of those infected with Zika show symptoms. They usually appear within 2 to 12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The symptoms typical go away within a week.

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