It’s summer and that means we want to be outside, enjoying the weather and sun with our family. However, for pregnant moms there’s a new concern buzzing around and overshadowing the outdoor fun: Zika.

Zika, a virus transmitted by mosquitoes, has been connected with serious birth defects, including microcephaly, hearing loss and impaired growth. Moms, moms-to-be and health care providers are worried, and understandably so.

“Zika can seem terribly scary for pregnant women and women who want to become pregnant,” said Mridua Naik, clinical nurse manager for the Pediatric Emergency Department at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “The best thing you can do is take the time to learn about the virus. That way you can better understand its likely impact on you and how to protect yourself, your baby and your family.”

Facts about the virus:

  • Zika is primarily spread by mosquito bites, and also through sexual transmission.
  • The mosquitoes that spread Zika are aggressive daytime biters, and can also bite at night.
  • There is no vaccine.
  • The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid travel to areas affected by Zika.
  • The virus is generally mild and can include symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Individuals may not even realize they have it.

When you do want to head outdoors to enjoy the summer weather, keep these important precautions in mind:

  • Limit your exposure, particularly when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants.
  • Use a bug spray recommended by the EPA.
  • Remove standing water around the house.

Visit our Q&A page for additional information. As always, be sure to speak with your doctor about any questions or concerns you have regarding Zika.