Follow these guidelines and understand more about Zika with these Q&As from MOH. By Dawn Chen
What you need to know about Zika, pregnancy and microcephaly. Photo: Feng Yu / www.123rf.com
The Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) has recently released a detailed FAQ list on the Zika virus and how it affects future and current pregnancies. Read on to find out more about the dreaded illness, and how it could affect babies.
1. If a woman who is not pregnant is bitten by a mosquito and infected with Zika virus, will her future pregnancies be at risk?
Zika virus infection does not pose a risk of birth defects for future pregnancies.
2. If a couple is planning for pregnancy, what is MOH’s advice if either one lives, works or studies in an affected area?
If both the man and woman are well, they should both take strict precautions against mosquito bites, and if they have further questions, consult their doctor. If the woman is symptomatic (with fever and rash and other symptoms such as red eyes or joint pain), she should seek medical attention promptly, and if confirmed positive for Zika, she should practise safer sexual practices or abstain from sexual intercourse for at least eight weeks after recovery, before trying to conceive.
If the man is symptomatic (with fever and rash and other symptoms such as red eyes or joint pain), he should seek medical attention promptly, and if confirmed positive for Zika, he should practise safer sex through the correct and consistent use of condoms or abstain from sexual intercourse for at least six months after recovery.
3. Are there any tests which can be done to determine if a pregnant woman is infected with Zika?
Currently, the only reliable test available for Zika is the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test which looks for genetic material of the virus in blood or urine. However, RT-PCR test is only able to detect Zika infection in blood within five to seven days of onset of symptoms and in urine within 14 days of onset. Therefore, the time window in which a pregnant woman can be tested using RT-PCR is very short. At present, there is no reliable serological test (which looks for antibodies in the blood) for Zika.
4. If I am pregnant and my male partner is tested positive for Zika, do I need to get tested if I do not have any symptoms?
If you have had sexual intercourse with your partner, you should consult a doctor and inform him/her of possible exposure to Zika so that he/she can arrange for Zika testing.
5. If I am pregnant and asymptomatic, but worried about possible exposure to Zika, where should I go to get tested?
WHO’s May 2016 guidelines and MOH’s August 2016 clinical guidelines on Zika virus infection and pregnancy do not recommend routine Zika testing for asymptomatic pregnant women. If you are concerned, you should discuss further with your doctor.