Pregnant? Here’s what you need to know about the Zika virus | health | Hindustan Times
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Pregnant? Here’s what you need to know about the Zika virus

Doctors say there’s no need to worry, but take steps to prevent any mosquito-borne virus — and always seek help if a fever lasts more than three days.

health Updated: Jun 05, 2017 17:28 IST
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya. (Getty Images / iStock)

On her last visit to the gynaecologist, mother-to-be Swati Umap Tijare, 31, asked her doctor about the Zika virus. “I wanted to know if I was at risk, and if there were any precautions I could take,” she says.

Three cases of Zika virus in India were uncovered in Ahmedabad over the past year, during a random survey. The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya. In pregnant women, it can cause birth defects such as microcephaly, characterised by unusually small heads, and other brain abnormalities in foetuses.

Of the three cases uncovered, one was a pregnant woman, the other a new mother. As news of those cases broke this week, some women — like Tijare, an assistant professor at a veterinary college — have been approaching their doctors for advice. Tijare was told to keep an eye out for water-traps in the neighbourhood, since they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

After news broke that three Zika virus cases were uncovered in Ahmedabad in 2016, during a random survey, mothers-to-be are understandably concerned. Swati Umap Tijare, an assistant professor at a veterinary college, recently approached her doctor for advice.
IT’S TIME TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR IF...
  • You have a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit accompanied byAbdominal painsChillsVomitingNauseaSplitting headacheLoose motions

She seems to be on the right track. Don’t panic, but take precautions, is Dr Y S Nandanvar’s advice to mothers-to-be. Nandanvar is professor and head of gynaecology at the DY Patil Medical College and Research Centre in Navi Mumbai. “Cover your skin to protect from mosquito bites, and use insect repellent,” he adds.

Dr Om Shrivastav, a consultant of infectious diseases and immunology at a Mumbai hospital says he has had patients approach him for ultrasounds after news broke of the Zika virus cases in Ahmedabad. “We first need to assess if the virus strain found in India matches the one in Brazil. Until then, there is no need to panic,” he says.

Women from higher socio-economic classes are more prone to panic, adds Dr Rekha Dawar, former head of obstetrics and gynaecology at Mumbai’s JJ hospital.

She recommends that pregnant women get checked in the first trimester. A good radiologist should be able to pick up signs of microcephaly during an ultrasound. “Abnormalities, if any, will be visible in a 3D ultrasound,” she adds. “Get another ultrasound in your second trimester.”

Dr Om Shrivastav, a consultant on infectious diseases and immunology at a Mumbai hospital, says he has had patients approach him for ultrasounds after news broke of the Zika virus cases in Ahmedabad last year. “We first need to assess if the virus strain found in India matches the one in Brazil. Until then, there is no need to panic,” he says.

Zika-related abnormalities may not often be visible until then. The tests are free in government hospitals and usually cost about Rs 3,000 in private ones. While it may be early to hit the panic button for Zika, experts say no fever in pregnancy should be taken lightly.

“Fever in pregnancy could be due to various reasons,” says Dr NB Vaid, former head of gynaecology at the Delhi government-run GTB Hospital.

From seasonal viral influenza to urinary tract infection, typhoid, malaria, Hepatitis A, dengue and chikungunya, the reasons for a fever could be many.

“We typically take a detailed history of the woman, including intensity of fever, duration and associated symptoms, before planning treatment,” Dr Vaid says. “If the fever persists for more than three days, then it is time to see your doctor. See your doctor immediately if the fever is accompanied by chills, nausea or vomiting.”