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Do I Still Need to Care about the Zika Virus?
The Zika virus might not have made many news headlines so far this summer; however, that does not mean those attempting to conceive can assume the virus no longer poses a serious concern.
Whether you are trying to conceive naturally or using fertility treatment services/third-party reproductive care to have a baby, the Zika virus is still relevant. There currently is no vaccine available to prevent Zika transmission from mosquitoes to humans. So it is up to you to work with your physician to ensure that you (and your partner) are educated and protected.
Why is the Zika virus an issue?
The reason the Zika virus matters is because it is linked to a very serious birth defect called microcephaly. Microcephaly causes babies to be born with a smaller head and brain size than normal, leading to developmental issues. The Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to the fetus she carries, resulting in microcephaly. Doctors are not currently able to reverse the impact of this transmission from mother to fetus, either during or post-pregnancy.
Do I need to worry about the Zika virus?
The Zika virus is spread primarily via infected mosquitoes, though it can also be spread via sexual intercourse with an infected male partner. The main takeaways from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at this time are that you should not travel to areas of the world where there is a risk of Zika transmission, and you should not engage in intercourse with someone who has traveled to those regions until they are properly screened.
Those trying to conceive are encouraged to speak with their physicians about Zika virus concerns. He or she will be able to provide guidance on ways you can reduce the risk of transmission during the summer months when mosquitoes are more prevalent.
You can also view the CDC’s up-to-date Zika travel information guide here.
If I’m using a sperm donor, will he be screened for Zika?
All sperm donors in the sperm donation program at the Fertility Center of California are carefully screened for both general wellness and infectious disease. Even after a donor is accepted into our program, his health status will be continually reassessed. Intended parents with specific questions about donor screening are encouraged to contact our office so we can address your concerns directly.
Most couples located in the United States will not have to worry about the direct impact of the Zika virus while they try for a pregnancy. However, being aware of whether you live in or near an area facing a Zika outbreak is important. It’s also important to recognize whether an area you are planning to travel to has experienced an outbreak. Again, please talk to your physician about any questions/concerns you may have about the virus and prevention.