ACOG supports CDC's zika virus travel precautions

January 23, 2016

(HealthDay)—The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)—the largest organization representing obstetricians and gynecologists in the United States—said Thursday that it supports new guidelines aimed at shielding pregnant women from the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The virus—now present in many countries and regions in Central and South America and the Caribbean—can cause a serious birth defect, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thousands of babies in Brazil were born last year with microcephaly, a brain disorder that experts associate with Zika exposure. Babies with the condition have abnormally small heads, resulting in developmental issues and, in some cases, death.

The CDC also said that cases of the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome have been reported in patients with probable Zika virus infection in Brazil and French Polynesia, although more study is needed to confirm the link.

According to a statement released late Thursday, ACOG is urging pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy to follow Zika virus travel and health guidelines recently issued by the CDC.

"Travel to regions with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks is not recommended for women who are pregnant or women who are considering pregnancy," ACOG President Dr. Mark DeFrancesco said in the statement.

One week ago, the CDC issued a travel warning for pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant for the following countries and territories: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

On Friday, the CDC added eight new countries to that list: Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Guyana, Cape Verde, and Samoa.

The CDC says doctors should ask all pregnant patients about recent travel and specific symptoms, such as a sudden fever or rash. If Zika virus infection is possible, doctors should have the patient tested for the virus.

If tests reveal signs of infection, ultrasounds should be considered to monitor the fetus' development, and referral to a maternal-fetal medicine or infectious disease specialist with expertise in pregnancy management is also recommended, the CDC advised.

According to ACOG's DeFrancesco, "there is much that we do not yet know about the Zika virus and its effects during pregnancy, for example whether pregnant women are of greater risk of infection than non-pregnant individuals. However, because of the associated risk of microcephaly, avoiding exposure to the virus is best. That's why pregnant women and women who are considering pregnancy should delay planned travel to areas where Zika virus outbreaks are ongoing."

Moreover, he added, "women traveling to areas where Zika virus has been reported should take all precautions to avoid mosquito bites, including covering exposed skin, staying in indoor- or screened-in areas, and using EPA-approved bug spray with DEET (which is safe for use during pregnancy)," DeFrancesco said.

"Because some women may have traveled to affected areas prior to this advisory, obstetrician-gynecologists and other health care providers should ask all pregnant women about recent travel, and women who have traveled to these regions should be evaluated for Zika virus infection," DeFrancesco advised.

"Because there is no treatment for Zika virus at this time, women should be counseled about all options available to them," he said. "When possible, delivery at a center with the appropriate levels of neonatal expertise may be warranted," he suggested.

"Of course, this is an evolving area," DeFrancesco noted. "We encourage health care providers and patients to continue to monitor the CDC for updated information."

Explore further: CDC: Ask pregnant women about trips to Zika outbreak areas

More information: More Information - ACOG
More Information - CDC

Related Stories

CDC: Ask pregnant women about trips to Zika outbreak areas

January 19, 2016
U.S. health officials have new guidance for doctors whose pregnant patients may have traveled to regions with a tropical illness linked to birth defects.

Zika virus concerns may curb travel for pregnant women

January 15, 2016
(HealthDay)—Pregnant women in the United States may be warned against traveling to Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading a virus that may cause brain damage in newborns.

Zika virus: US issues travel warning for pregnant women

January 16, 2016
The United States warned pregnant women Friday to avoid travel to 14 countries and territories in the Caribbean and Latin America due to the mosquito-borne Zika virus, linked to birth defects.

US Virgin Islands reports its first Zika virus case

January 22, 2016
The U.S. Virgin Islands is reporting its first case of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Florida reports first three Zika virus cases

January 20, 2016
Three cases of Zika virus, Florida's first, were recorded in people who had recently traveled in Latin America, health authorities said Wednesday.

Three people test positive for Zika in New York: authorities

January 23, 2016
Three people in New York have tested positive for the Zika virus, which has been blamed for a surge in babies born with abnormally small heads in Latin America, city officials said Friday.

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.