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Zika virus and pregnancy : Here’s how you can protect yourself from the virus

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

Infants and children can get infected with the zika virus during or after pregnancy. Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease that is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It is caused by the same breed of mosquitoes that carry dengue and chikungunya viruses.

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Zika can have severe effects on pregnant women as it can cause miscarriages or babies with birth defects. It can even lead to brain defects in unborn babies, leading to microcephaly.

As infants need constant care and attention, you must take the necessary precautions to prevent zika in infants. Follow the tips given below for the same.

Can zika virus affect infants?

The answer is yes! Zika virus can be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to her foetus during pregnancy, which is called congenital transmission. Also, when infants get infected with zika virus around the time of their birth, it is known as perinatal transmission.

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Congenital or intrauterine (in utero) transmission of zika virus occurs when a woman gets infected with the virus during her pregnancy and passes it on to her foetus.

Similarly, when a woman gets infected with the Zika virus within two weeks of her delivery and the infection is passed on to the infant, it is known as Perinatal transmission.

Moreover, zika virus has been found in breast milk. But, the transmission of the virus in infants through breastfeeding is still not confirmed.

Symptoms of perinatal transmission in infants
When an infant gets infected with zika virus perinatally, he/she develops symptoms such as fever, maculopapular rash, conjunctivitis and arthralgia.

However, when infants and children acquire zika virus postnatally or through other routes of transmission such as mosquito bites, they usually are asymptomatic or have mild illness. Similar to that of adults, they also develop common symptoms of zika virus including fever, redness of eyes, headaches, muscle and joint pain etc.

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Here are some tips to prevent zika in infants

As infants and children require constant care and attention and are completely dependent on you, then you must take the necessary precautions to protect them from zika infection.

.The best method to prevent zika in infants is to avoid mosquito bites. As mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant water such as buckets, animal dishes, ponds or flower pots, you must reduce their populations by destroying their habitats and potential breeding places.

.You can even protect your child from mosquito bites by covering the crib, baby carrier, or stroller with mosquito netting. You must make your baby sleep in a well-sealed mosquito net.

.Make them wear fully covered clothes or protective clothing as this significantly minimises the area of exposed skin, ultimately reducing the chances of mosquito bites.

.You must never use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months. Instead, try to use bug netting. However, you can use insect repellent containing DEET on children older than 8 weeks and products containing picaridin once your child is over 2 years old.

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Similarly, insect repellents containing PMD and oil of lemon eucalyptus are considered safe to use after your child is 3 years old. However, you must use only those insect repellents that are registered by EPA as they are made using a delicate formula and are gentle on human skin.

.You must avoid taking infants to locations where mosquitos are present. Keep away insect repellents from your child’s face as they can be dangerous if applied directly on the face.

.You must increase the fluid intake for your child to prevent dehydration. Also, try to include immunity-booster food in their diet.

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