Hospital warns women about dangers of Zika virus

Health experts warn that Zika virus birth defects if infected women are pregnant.

Health experts warn that Zika virus birth defects if infected women are pregnant. (4/7/16)

NORTH BERGEN - A New Jersey hospital is educating women who want to become pregnant about the dangers of the Zika virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there are five reported cases of Zika in New Jersey, but officials believe that number may rise. 

The virus has no vaccine and is contracted by the bite of a female Aedes mosquito. Zika is known to cause severe birth defects such as small heads or brain growth, impaired vision or seizures.

Due to the concerns, Hackensack University Medical Center in North Bergen held a seminar for women who are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant.

Gynecologist Jigna Patel says she has new protocols now that Zika is spreading.

"For all our new patients we've been asking if they have any recent travel history,” she says.

Patel also suggests that women who are pregnant or planning to be may want to avoid traveling or use mosquito repellant. She also suggests couples who are traveling to areas affected by the Zika virus to use condoms.

The CDC suggests that women who may already be infected with Zika to wait at least eight weeks before trying to get pregnant. Men who are infected should wait at least six months before trying to conceive a baby because the virus stays in their system longer.

Testing for Zika is not currently routine practice for prenatal care. Many of the women who attended Thursday’s seminar suggested that it should be.

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