Salute to Spouses Blog

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Zika Virus: What Women Need to Know During PCS Season

By Christine Cioppa

Pregnant woman, and those trying to conceive, beware: you don’t have to be in a country where the birth-defect-causing Zika virus is found to be at risk for the virus. It can be passed along sexually by men who get infected from a mosquito bite while out of the country

And with PCS season and multiple, overseas, joint exercises coming in the next few months, there are a lot of military families that will be traveling to Zika infected areas.

What’s alarming is that the Zika virus may or may not produce symptoms. Only 20 percent of people who are infected feel sick (rash, fever, joint pain, red eye).

Currently, it’s not known if all pregnant women who are infected will pass it to the fetus. There are a lot of unknowns about the virus right now. For example, it’s known that the virus lasts about a week in the blood (and sometimes longer), but experts are not sure how long it lasts in semen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently has Zika Virus travel notices for the following areas:

Cape Verde


Central America


Pacific Islands

South America

There is no vaccine or drug treatment yet for this virus. According to a memo this month from the Department of Defense Health Affairs, “Local mosquito vector transmission of Zika virus has not been documented in the continental United States, but Zika virus infections have been reported in travelers returning to the United States.”

If you’re pregnant, the CDC recommends that you: avoid travel to areas with the Zika virus, try to prevent mosquito bites (protective clothing, repellents, etc.) and try to prevent possible virus transmission from sex with an infected male. Got questions or concerns? Reach out to your healthcare provider.


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