“It’s very important that pregnant women who are planning to travel to areas that have documented transmission of the virus understand that they need to postpone their trip,” said Donna Dizon-Townson, a maternal fetal medicine physician with Intermountain Healthcare.
The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquito bite and has been linked to a potential risk of microcephaly and intracranial calcifications in the fetus of pregnant women affected with the virus.
MORE INFO ON THE ZIKA VIRUS: The Centers for Disease Control
There are currently confirmed cases in 18 states in Latin America and the Caribbean. A million people are infected in Brazil and the disease is expected to spread to all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile, according to the World Health Organization.
RELATED INFO: Countries affected by the virus
Dr. Dizon-Townson said microcephaly, a rare condition which causes unusually small heads, and intracranial calcifications can both lead to developmental delay in children. Transmission of the virus can occur during any trimester of pregnancy and is detected in the amniotic fluid of women who have been bit by mosquitoes.
Pregnant women who contract the virus will have symptoms such as a mild fever, chills, a mild rash, muscle and joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The virus causes a short illness in most people, lasting between two and seven days.
“Unfortunately, no treatment is available other than supportive care for the symptoms,” said Dr. Dizon-Townson.