CDC Updates Zika Advice for Pregnant Women

     (CN) — Federal health officials have updated their recommendations for pregnant women who may have been exposed to the Zika virus, urging them to get tested for up to 14 days after their symptoms begin.
     The recommendations, released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, increased the appropriate period for testing from seven days to 14 days after a pregnant woman initially experiences symptoms.
     The CDC’s new guidelines reflect updated research showing the virus can stay in the blood of pregnant women for longer than previously thought. Women who have no symptoms should also get checked, according to the agency.
     Federal health officials recommend that women experiencing these symptoms undergo a test for Zika particles in their blood for a more definitive Zika infection diagnoses.
     Women who engage in sexual contact with a partner who has visited an area experiencing local active transmission should use condoms or abstain from sex for the remainder of the pregnancy, according to the CDC.
     The symptoms of Zika include fever, rash and joint pain. While not generally not dangerous to adults in good health, the virus is linked to the congenital birth defect microcephaly, which can result in babies born with reduced head size and potential brain damage.
     Microcephaly has also been discovered in stillbirths and dead fetuses.
     Zika may also be connected to a few other birth defects and disorders, but more research is needed to be certain.
     The virus is generally transmitted by mosquito bites, but it can also be spread through sexual contact. Earlier this month, the CDC announced the first case of female-to-male transmission of Zika.
     The CDC estimates that about 20 percent of people infected with Zika do not have clear symptoms, which makes it difficult to identify potential infections and acquire appropriate medical care. The agency says that the virus can be identified by urine and blood tests.
     Congress and the Obama Administration are currently at an impasse over additional funding to combat Zika.

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