As medical investigators scramble to find more clues behind the transmission and side effects of the Zika virus, fears among women and those pregnant or considering pregnancy in Central and South America are rising. In the U.S., an epidemic is distant. However, with warmer weather approaching and new forms of transmission being reported, concerns among would-be mothers and their doctors persist.
To date, the most tragic possible side effect of the Zika virus has been microcephaly in newborns—a condition that causes potential mental retardation, deafness, blindness, and other forms of brain damage—and which could be linked to mothers infected by the virus during their pregnancies.
While the Zika virus has not been proven to be the cause, the possibility of an association has generated a great deal of anxiety. Some speculate that the cause may be due to pesticides as some additional evidence points to a pesticide link; however, the exact cause behind dramatic increases of microcephaly in Brazil has yet to be determined.
World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan has stated, “Although a causal link between Zika infection in pregnancy and microcephaly has not, and I must emphasize, has not been established, the circumstantial evidence is suggestive and extremely worrisome.” There is also some evidence that points to sexual transmission of Zika virus by men, with 14 such cases being investigated in the U.S.
According to the Washington Post, since last fall more than 4,000 cases of microcephaly births have been documented. The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control is advising against travel to affected areas for pregnant women and their sexual partners.
InCrowd recently gathered data from doctors and patients to understand their perceptions around the Zika virus. The survey respondents included:
- 70 US-based gynecologists or OB/GYNs with a minimum of 20 expectant patients and with an average of 100 expectant patients and 70 trying-to-get-pregnant patients. Physicians responded between February 3-5, 2016.
- 150 women between ages 18-45, including 20% who were pregnant, and 80% who were considering becoming pregnant. Patients responded between February 5-7, 2016.
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Key findings among women indicate that although they are worried about the Zika virus, they are not panicking. Sixty five percent of women surveyed were very concerned about the Zika virus, yet over half of those considering getting pregnant would not delay pregnancy plans under any circumstances. “I don’t believe I’m at risk in the U.S.,” said one patient respondent in a remark echoed by many others.
See our infographic below and read more details around our Zika virus surveys online.
Among other findings:
- Travel considerations existed for patients, but not to the extreme. Only 27% are reconsidering upcoming travel plans to certain regions in the U.S.
- Insect repellent is presently being used by 56% of women surveyed. Nearly half are urging friends/family to take additional precautions to protect themselves against the Zika virus.
- Notably, 20% of women said they aren’t taking any of the commonly considered precautions at all.
American patients are cautiously monitoring the Zika virus, but not overreacting to it at this time, according to InCrowd’s new data. To continue to understand the Zika virus epidemic, InCrowd will track this important public health matter over the coming weeks and report on results as events evolve.