Public Health England has published a briefing to health care professionals, including midwives, about the increase of Zika Virus (ZIKV) cases in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.
The briefing note, released on Wednesday, has been published because of the potential association of infection in pregnant women and the increased risk of congenital and neurological complications to the foetus.
In November 2015, the Brazilian Ministry of Health declared a public health emergency, following the number of babies being born with microcephaly seeing a 20-fold increase.
Current evidence suggests that mother-to-child transmission of ZIKV can occur through the placenta, with a possible relationship between an ongoing outbreak of the virus and microcephaly.
While ZIKV doesn’t occur naturally in the UK, Public Health England believes midwives and other health care professionals should be aware of the current situation.
ZIKV is not contagious and can’t be passed from person-to-person, with the risk of complications and death in adults are considered rare.
Public Health England’s briefing states that any health care professionals treating pregnant women should remain vigilant, especially if the woman has visited the America’s, Caribbean or Pacific Islands recently.
Symptoms of ZIKV include: headaches, rash, conjunctivitis, joint pain and mild fever.
For more information about ZIKV, visit the UK Government website.
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