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Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman's life. There is so much to learn, including ways to protect yourself and your new baby from health risks. Recently, the Zika virus outbreak and its link to birth defects have been making the headlines. Zika may sound scary, but there are some basic steps pregnant women can take to protect themselves.
Zika is mostly spread by mosquito bites, primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but it can also be sexually transmitted from an infected man to his sex partners (as Zika is known to be spread from semen). There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. The sickness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.
For pregnant women, the concern is that Zika virus can be passed to the fetus during pregnancy or around the time of delivery, and infection during pregnancy has been linked to a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other problems in infants. But there is still a lot we don't know about Zika virus, including how likely it is that Zika virus will affect a pregnancy or result in birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations are doing research to try to answer these and other questions about Zika.
CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women to protect themselves from Zika.
Women trying to become pregnant should follow these mosquito bite prevention guidelines as well.
CDC is working around the clock to learn more about Zika and how it affects pregnancy and infants.
Check CDC's Zika website regularly to get the most up-to-date information.