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Zika Virus and its Effects in Pregnancy


Photo Credits: Washington Post 

The #MaternalMonday Campaign of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa has raised awareness on the highly probable effects of Zika Virus on Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes. Recent reports have noted incidences of mothers delivering babies with microcephaly, a rare birth defect that causes infants to have unusually small heads and under developed brains, which can lead to learning and motor difficulties in the future. In Brazil, this birth defect is likely linked to Zika virus infection (caused by mosquito bites from an infected Aedes mosquito). The Zika virus is also known to be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy .

Zika virus has an Incubation period of about 3 to 12 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Apart from pregnant women and their babies, Zika virus can affect anyone who lives or travels to any area where there is an outbreak of the virus. The virus is usually asymptomatic in roughly 80% of individuals who have been infected, and its symptoms usually include: fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain and headache. There are no treatments or vaccines to protect against Zika virus infection, therefore preventive personal measures such as avoiding mosquito bites, using mosquito repellants and treated mosquito nets are recommended .

Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in areas such as Africa, South-east Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In the 1970’s, a study conducted by A.H Fagbami at the University of Ibadan showed that 40% of Nigerians had Zika virus neutralizing antibody which gives them a level of immunity against the virus . While there’s no outbreak of Zika virus in Nigeria currently, recent reports have shown a steady increase in cases of fetal microcephaly related to Zika virus infection in pregnant women in Brazil . The rapid increase in its spread has become a growing cause for concern and it is therefore important that healthcare professionals and expectant mothers take precautionary measures, to prevent and eliminate the spread of the virus; this should include eliminating stagnant bodies of water in the communities, use of mosquito repellants and insecticide treatment nets. This will help avert life-long health issues and challenges for mothers and their newborns.    

#MaternalMonday, the popular weekly information campaign established by Her Excellency, Mrs Toyin Saraki's Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) seeks to empower midwives, mothers and their newborns through demand-creation for birth preparedness, reducing the scourge of preventable maternal, newborn and child mortality. Mrs Saraki, the Newborn Champion for Save the Children Nigeria, also serves as Global Goodwill Ambassador of the International Confederation of Midwives.


Signed: Communications
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa


Signed: Communications
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa

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