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Photo courtesy of WHO
The mosquito vector that carries the Zika virus thrives in warm climates and particularly in areas of poor living conditions. Pregnant women living in or travelling to such areas are at equal risk as the rest of the population of being infected by viruses borne by this vector. Maternal infection with Zika virus may go unnoticed as some people will not develop symptoms. Although Zika virus infection in pregnancy is typically a mild disease, an unusual increase in cases of congenital microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome and other neurological complications in areas where outbreaks have occurred, has significantly raised concern for pregnant women and their families, as well as health providers and policy-makers.
The aim of this document from the World Health Organization (WHO) is to provide interim guidance for interventions to reduce the risk of maternal Zika virus infection and to manage potential complications during pregnancy. This guidance is based on the best available research evidence and covers areas prioritized by an international, multidisciplinary group of healthcare professionals and other stakeholders. Specifically, it presents guidance for preventing Zika virus infection;antenatal care and management of women with infection; and care during pregnancy for all pregnant women living in affected areas, with the aim of optimizing health outcomes for mothers and newborns. The guidance is intended to inform the development of national and local clinical protocols and health policies that relate to pregnancy care in the context of Zika virus transmission. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive practical guide for the prevention and management of Zika virus infections.