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Winter in North America has diverted immediate attention away from the primarily mosquito-borne Zika virus. These waning days of cold weather are an opportune time to evaluate risk and take any recommended precautions, because prevention is best addressed before an escalation of one infection or another.
February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month.
If you are pregnant or planning to conceive, it is important to clear your yard of tires, buckets, planters, toys, and other items that can harbor standing water in which mosquitos can lay their eggs. Cover your skin by wearing long sleeves and pants as well as insect repellant when outside during peak mosquito times. Several Zika vaccine trials are under way, but it may be years before a vaccine is commercially available.
It’s also important that your doctor evaluate you for vaginal infections unrelated to common yeast imbalances. Infections to be especially vigilant about include: Bacterial Vaginosis; Group B Streptococcus (GBS); and sexually transmitted diseases, including Syphilis, Genital Herpes, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV); Chlamydia Trachomatis; and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Other infections to be aware of are Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Both are contagious viruses that affect the liver. Once acquired, Hep B often is a chronic and lifelong infection that can be passed to others via body fluids. All newborns are routinely vaccinated against Hep B. However, there is no vaccine for Hep C, and most of those infected eventually will develop long-term liver disease.
Although it is rare, pregnant women can contract Listeriosis by eating spoiled or contaminated foods that may include delicatessen meats, unpasteurized milk, and raw or undercooked seafood.
Make sure to discuss potential infections with your doctor before conceiving or during prenatal visits. Fortunately, common hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing and disinfecting surfaces are still effective in reducing the risk of contracting an infection during pregnancy.
This blog provides general information and discussion about healthcare-related subjects. The content and linked materials provided are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader is an expectant mother with a medical concern, she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician or healthcare provider.
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