In recent months, Zika virus has spread from Brazil to the southern U.S.
and northward. It generally causes mild symptoms, including rashes and
aches, and those who are infected may not even feel ill enough to visit
a doctor. However, the virus can cause
birth defects when a pregnant woman contracts it.
Zika in Maryland
As of June 3, there have been 17 reported cases of
Maryland residents infected with the Zika virus. All of them contracted the virus while travelling outside the country,
but Zika can be transmitted both by mosquitoes and through sexual contact.
Symptoms and Birth Defects
Most of the
Zika virus’s symptoms are fairly non-serious. They may include rash, fever,
joint pain, aches, fatigue, headache, and conjunctivitis, and can last
from several days to a week.
But the CDC has confirmed that Zika can cause
birth defects in fetuses when a pregnant woman becomes infected. One of the most serious
potential birth defects is microcephaly, where an infant is born with
an unusually small head. Zika can also cause severe fetal brain defects.
Other potential birth defects include eye defects, impaired growth, and
hearing loss. Not all babies born to infected mothers will have birth
defects, but microcephaly and brain defects are very serious, so it is
wise to take preventive measures.
Zika virus is
transmitted through the bite of an infected
Aedes species mosquitoes. This species of mosquito breeds in pools of standing
water and can breed in as little water as fits in a bottle cap.
Aedes mosquitoes bite during the day, and are the same mosquitoes that spread
dengue and chikungunya viruses.
Uniquely, Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted. The
live virus has been found in semen up to two months after symptoms have abated and after the period during
which it is detectible in the blood.
There have also been reports of transmission through blood transfusions
in Brazil, but none in the U.S.
Zika can be
prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. Preventive measures include:
- Using insect repellent;
- Staying indoors as much as possible and wearing long sleeves and pants
while outdoors in Zika endemic areas;
- Sleeping under mosquito netting; and
- Treating clothing and gear with permethrin.
Pregnant women especially should avoid travel to Zika endemic areas in
South and Central America and the Caribbean, and women who have traveled
to these areas may want to delay pregnancy. Since Zika can be spread sexually
by an infected man, it is essential to always use condoms.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
The rate of Zika virus infection are low in the U.S., and preventive measures
are possible. But potential consequences for pregnant women and their
babies are extremely serious. If you have become infected with Zika, and
your doctor has failed to diagnose or properly treat the virus, you may
have a medical malpractice claim for any resultant birth defects. Please call the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 to schedule a free initial consultation.