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TOH monitors Zika virus status

February 11, 2016 – A Zika virus outbreak is underway in dozens of countries in Central and South America. The main symptoms include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain, and general malaise that usually begin two to seven days after the bite from an infected mosquito. However, only one in five people develop symptoms.

Zika appears to cause congenital anomalies in fetuses. Therefore, The Ottawa Hospital has the following recommendations for women who are pregnant or considering trying to conceive:

  • Consult your health-care provider about whether to travel to Zika hot spots.
  • Refrain from trying to conceive for two months after returning from an affected region.

There is one confirmed case of transmission through sexual contact when a man returned from a Zika hot spot and transmitted the virus to a woman. It’s recommended that men returning from an affected region use a condom for two months.

The hospital offers Zika virus screening for pregnant women. The hospital recommends patients consult with their health-care providers if they have concerns after traveling to an area affected by Zika. If your health-care provider considers you to be at risk, then you will be referred to the Tropical Disease clinic at the hospital. This clinic is accepting referrals for women who meet the following criteria:

  • Pregnant women who have travelled within the last year to a Zika hot spot
  • Women who have travelled to a hot spot in the last two months who are now trying to conceive

TOH has a multi-disciplinary team in place to monitor the status of the Zika virus in Canada and Eastern Ontario as well as emerging trends about screening and assessment. The hospital team is well-equipped to handle the needs of high-risk patients and will do its best to help reduce patient anxiety with compassionate care.

For the latest information on the affected countries, please see the World Health Organization website.