Local hospitals warning pregnant women about Zika virus

Local hospitals warning pregnant women about Zika virus

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Center for Disease Control is on the ground in Miami trying to learn more about the active Zika transmission in the area.

Now, the CDC is urging pregnant women who have traveled to the area after June 15, or have partners who did, to be screened for the virus.

Local doctors agree, especially because the symptoms of Zika can be mistaken for other common viruses.

"Most patients don't even realize that they've contracted the virus," said Dr. Karyn Markley, a physician at Magnolia OB/GYN in Myrtle Beach.

Markley said the symptoms of the Zika virus, if the infected person even shows symptoms at all, are similar to those of the flu or even conjunctivitis, and show up two weeks after exposure.

However, Markley said the real threat is for the potential risk of microcephaly in a newborn baby.

"It has the potential for causing developmental problems, with the brain and the skull, that potentially can lead to developmental delay if contracted during pregnancy," she said.

Markley added screening for the virus is easy and can be done through blood and urine tests. If there are traces of it found in these tests, she said it does not automatically mean the child is infected.

From there, doctors would monitor the child's development.

Magnolia OB/GYN, along with many other area hospitals and offices, received the latest CDC warning over the weekend and have since placed the warning in all patient rooms, hallways and even bathrooms.

"We ask patients about travel history and risks, even talk to patients about family planning, especially in light of recent travel," Markley said.

She said this warning does not just affect women who are already pregnant, but also those trying to get pregnant.

"So if they've been to an area that potentially has Zika virus, they should wait at least eight weeks before attempting to conceive," Markley said "If their partner has already had an outbreak of the virus, it's recommended to wait even upwards of six months before trying to conceive."

Markley pushed a proactive approach by avoiding traveling to infected areas and mosquitos all together. She also suggested those who have traveled to an infected area wear bug spray for three weeks, so uninfected mosquitoes do not become infected after biting them.

She also suggested pregnant women with partners who travel should use protection throughout pregnancy.

Those who concerned about Zika and want to be screened should contact their local doctor.

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