Frequently Asked Questions for Medical Providers
Which patients should you ask about Zika?
Anyone of reproductive age; all men and woman who are sexually active should be screened for travel.
Asking this question should empower you to start a conversation about sexual activity and contraception.
The areas of exposure are changing often; use CDC resources to help screening risks.
What can be done?
Contraception. Birth control is the only effective prevention of the Zika virus’ effects on a fetus. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned and a proactive effort to provide contraception is key to prevent fetal exposure.
Who is at risk?
Women and men who have traveled or are traveling to an area with known Zika virus, or those having sex with someone who has traveled to an affected area.
Travel exposure for the Zika virus is complex and potential exposure may not be clear. Education of contraception, prevention methods and travel avoidance is crucial to help prevent viral spread.
Any pregnancies occurring within 8 weeks of travel to an area with Zika virus may be affected; however, men can carry viruses like Zika up to 6 months after infection. There may be ongoing transmission risks and condom use should be discussed.
What do I do if I have a pregnant patient with possible exposure?
Contact the State Epidemiologist office at the Georgia Department of Public Health, 404-657-2588 and get guidance on testing.
If your patient has exposure and active symptoms it is important to call the state epidemiologist that day to confirm the best testing methods. Active symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache.
My office can draw blood; can we draw blood to test a patient?
Yes, but first contact the State Epidemiologist at 404-657-2588 to confirm need for testing. They will guide you through the testing process and may even be able to provide you with packaging to send the sample directly to the state lab.
Is it safe to see patients with active Zika virus?
Yes, though routes of transmission are still being investigated patients can be safely seen in any office. Standard precautions should be observed.
Where can I send a pregnant patient that is positive for the Zika virus?
You can continue to provide routine obstetric care for this patient. Your office may be close to the patient’s home and support systems.
Emory Clinic Gynecology and Obstetrics, 404-778-3401, can provide consultation and care of infected patients in partnership with our experienced Infectious Diseases team.
How do I counsel a patient with sexual partners who may have traveled to areas with the Zika virus?
Condom use should be encouraged for those with male intimate partners.
Discussion of contraception should be offered.
Look to resources at the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health to find the latest recommendations. If you have any question or any concerns call the State Epidemiology office at 404-657-2588.