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    Zika: How to counsel concerned patients

     

    Cause for concern

    A potential association between Zika virus infection during pregnancy and birth of a child with microcephaly is the major cause for public health concern with this disease.

    “CDC recommendations about how people who live in or travel to Zika epidemic areas can prevent infection have been published and updated, including specific recommendations that pregnant women, or women planning to become pregnant consider avoiding travel and taking extensive precautions to avoid mosquito bites if they do travel,” Dr. Morens says.

    ALSO READ: Where to get the latest on Zika virus

    Reports of sexually transmitted Zika virus infection are now appearing in the news. Dr. Morens says that while rare, sexual transmission is a known method of disease communication for other viruses and is explained by the immune privileged status of the gonads that allows the virus to survive. While it appears this phenomenon may occur more often with Zika than with other viruses, the jury is still out on whether that observation is real.

    “It is important to make patients aware that if they have any concern about acquiring Zika through sexual contact, they should be using a condom to prevent infection,” Dr. Morens says. 

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