We have been aware of the Zika virus since 1947, only identifying cases in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, but in January this year it became a public health concern after it was detected in Brazil.
For healthy adults, the effects of Zika are mild, but if that healthy adult is pregnant, the virus can create severe brain defects in the fetus, including microcephaly.
Now, as we approach summer travel season, the CDC has announced Zika’s larger presence in the US, identifying 279 pregnant women who have the virus. So we’ve got some doctors to help answer our personal and public health concerns: What do we have to worry about? Should people delay planned pregnancies? If you are traveling to Zika areas, should you avoid pregnant friends and family when you come home?
Amesh Adalja, M.D., Senior Associate at the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he specializes in studying and preventing the epidemics and infectious diseases.
Neil Silverman, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA, perinatal point person on Zika for the California Department of Public Health