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Zika Virus Symptoms and Your Patient Rights

September 21, 2016 R

UPDATE: September 20, 2016
A new study noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports some people infected with Zika develop conjunctivitis, an eye infection common known as “pink eye.” Although the Zika infection had been identified in urine, semen, saliva and breast milk, the study noted Chinese travelers who had been infected in Venezuela were found to have the virus from eye swabs five to seven days after symptoms occurred.

UPDATE: September 15, 2016
On September 7, The World Health Organization updated its assessment of the Zika virus as a cause of congenital brain abnormalities in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults, after considering months of research into the mosquito-borne disease.

UPDATE: August 19, 2016
The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommend that men who have had symptoms of Zika not attempt to father a child for six months after their illness. They also suggest that men who have been ill practice safe sex or abstinence if their partner is pregnant.

Since 2015, articles about the “new” Zika virus and the potential spread of the virus worldwide to some 30 countries have been highlighted in the news. Scientists are researching how and why a virus first identified nearly 70 years ago as benign, could now pose such a grave risk, most especially to pregnant women, women of child-bearing age, and men who may be infected and impregnate women. To date there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika. Due to these concerns, it is urged that everyone, especially women of child-bearing age, be proactive in this regard and not wait until symptoms appear. Everyone should avoid bug bites by using insect repellents, removing any and all standing water, and scrubbing with soap any areas that mosquitoes eggs could have been laid. Currently men who have symptoms and have contracted the Zika virus have been recommended to ensure they do not impregnate women for at least a few months.

Common Zika Virus symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes, although some infected people do not have any Zika Virus symptoms. Zika Virus Disease is thought to be spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes, and through sexual transmission. Mosquitoes that spread Zika are aggressive daytime and nighttime biters. Zika Virus infection in pregnant women has recently been declared a definite cause of microcephaly. That condition causes babies to be born with smaller heads and major developmental challenges that are potentially lifelong. The virus is also associated with other severe fetal brain defects, and has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can cause paralysis. Experts have begun calling the host of conditions linked to the virus in babies, Congenital Zika Syndrome, as recently some babies born with disabilities are more severe than in textbook microcephaly cases.

Of the more than 3,000 U.S. pregnant women travelers tested for Zika so far this year, coming from afflicted areas, a full 28% of them had Zika, and most, but not all, had rash, fever or red eyes. We believe that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should talk with your doctors about your risks in general of having or contracting the disease, and about travel to currently-known Zika infested areas, including the potential for the spread in the southern gulf states of the United States.

Here in the U.S. preparations have begun for the possible spread of Zika this summer, particularly in the southern Gulf States. The federal government is now offering all US states funding to boost their prevention plans. US health officials predict large outbreaks in the U.S. are not as likely because of wide use of air conditioning and window screens. However, we want to urge all pregnant women and women of child-bearing age to take every precaution possible to avoid mosquito bites, sexual transmission of the disease, and to carefully consider travel to known areas of wide-spread Zika virus.

The CDC recommends that pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant or who may wish to become pregnant:

    • Should not travel to any area with Zika.
    • Women that must travel to, or live in an area with Zika virus, should talk with healthcare providers and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites
    • Women with a male partner(s) who lives in, or has traveled to an area with Zika, should abstain or properly use condoms every time they have sex
    • Before women or male partner(s) travel, talk to healthcare providers about plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection
    • Women and male partner(s) should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites

It was merely months ago that health officials thought the Zika virus was not transmitted through sexual activity. Now, the CDC has an excellent video available to the public about preventing the Zika virus, based on the currently known methods of transmission, including sexual transmission. Previously, microcephaly was considered a rare birth defect. Today doctors working with infants in South America with Zika virus say some may never learn to talk or walk, will have trouble seeing, could develop epilepsy. Officials indicate that there may be a spectrum of problems with a baby’s health that don’t show up as microcephaly.

If you have medical-legal concerns regarding your pregnancy or your baby’s health, please don’t hesitate in contacting our experienced New York medical malpractice law firm for a free consultation to ensure your rights are protected. Call Pegalis Law Group at (516) 684-2900. Or email us at ATTORNEY ADVERTISING