Some adoptive families have come to us with questions and concerns about the recent outbreak that has affected newborn babies in other countries – the Zika virus. To help you understand the Zika virus and whether it has an impact on American Adoptions, we have provided answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
If you have any questions that are not addressed here, contact us at any time for assistance.
What is Zika virus?
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus which has led to birth defects in the children of affected women. While it was first discovered in Africa several decades ago, in the last year it was spotted in Brazil. From there, it has spread to several countries. To date, no person has contracted Zika virus from a mosquito bite within the Continental United States.
How is the virus spread?
Zika is primarily transmitted through mosquito bites from Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitos that are infected with the virus. For the virus to spread within the United States, an Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus would need to bite an infected person during the first week of the infection when the virus can be found in the infected person’s blood. The mosquito then bites another person and this cycle continues causing an outbreak. Zika virus can also be spread sexually if one person is infected.
What are the effects of the virus?
The symptoms of Zika virus are mild, and they only occur in about 20 percent of cases. These can include joint pain, rashes, fever, and redness of the eyes.
The most pressing concern of the virus is the effect it has on the babies of infected mothers. Numerous cases of microcephaly and other serious birth defects have been reported in infants as a result of Zika.
How can you tell if someone has Zika virus?
Because the symptoms are not common or severe, the virus can often go unnoticed. The only way to confirm that someone is infected is to test him or her for it.
How many cases of Zika have there been in the United States?
While there have been United States residents infected, all of the cases have been caused by travelling to a country where Zika is prevalent, such as Brazil. U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico have experienced an outbreak.
How can Zika be prevented?
People travelling to affected areas should protect themselves from mosquitos at all times of the day. Because people may not know they have Zika, it is recommended that travelers practice safe sex and not attempt to conceive for at least eight weeks after traveling. Men who experience symptoms may need to do so for six months.
What measures does American Adoptions take to prevent illnesses in newborns?
American Adoptions cannot prevent the spread of Zika virus or regulate the behaviors of prospective birth mothers. We will however continue to monitor the spread of the virus to ensure that we can inform the families and birth parents who work with us and take further action if necessary. We strongly encourage all of the birth mothers who work with us to receive timely and proper prenatal care.
What if a baby were born with Zika at American Adoptions?
Because of the effects of the virus, we would treat such an occurrence the same as any special-needs situation. We know that not all families can provide the necessary care for children with significant medical needs. If you are unable to move forward with an adoption plan for this reason, it will not affect your ability to adopt in the future.
How can I learn more about Zika virus?
For current information on the virus, visit the World Health Organization.