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Zika Virus

SC Health Bulletin

By Kathy Sinkin, RN, CDE

There has been much talk in the press lately about the Zika virus, and with good reason. It has now found its way to the United States. We should all take a minute to educate ourselves about this new outbreak which can be quite harmful to pregnant women.

The Zika virus infection is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, usually causing mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye), and muscle pain. The virus was isolated for the first time in 1947 in the Zika forest in Uganda. Since then, it has remained mainly in Africa, with small and sporadic outbreaks in Asia. In May of 2015, the public health authorities of Brazil confirmed the transmission of Zika virus in the northeast of the country. Since October of 2015, other countries and territories have reported the presence of the virus.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), one out of four infected people develop symptoms of the disease. Among those who do, the disease is usually mild and can last for 2-7 days. However, in pregnant women the Zika virus is suspected of causing severe birth defects such as microcephaly, in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head. Scientists fear that exposure to Zika virus in the womb may cause a fetal brain to stop developing normally, resulting in potentially lifelong setbacks such as intellectual disability and developmental delays.

01-29-2016 UPDATE CDC Travel Advisory for Pregnant Women

01-29-2016 UPDATE CDC Travel Advisory for Pregnant Women SPANISH

01-29-2016 Large Print – CDC Issues Travel Advisory for Pregnant Women doc


Kathy Sinkin is a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at


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