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The Zika Virus and Traveling for Traveling for Fertility Treatment
If you are considering the Caribbean, Mexico or another travel destination for fertility treatment, here’s what you need to know about the Zika virus.
The CDC lists Zika-related travel notices for Cape Verde, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, the Pacific Islands and South America. These are all areas where ongoing transmission of the Zika virus from mosquitoes is reported.
Microcephaly, a birth defect of the brain, has been reported in babies whose mothers had the Zika virus while pregnant. The CDC recommends that pregnant women postpone travel to countries where the Zika virus has been identified. They also recommend that women who are trying to get pregnant wait two weeks after travel before trying to get pregnant. The virus lives in the blood for approximately one week. After that period, an individual has immunity to the virus.
The virus can also live in the semen for up to 62 days and may be present in saliva. Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant with a male partner who has traveled to an area where Zika is transmitted are recommended to use latex condoms or abstain from sex to prevent transmission. Everyday precautions include avoiding mosquitoes, wearing long sleeves and pants to protect from bites and using an EPA registered mosquito repellent.
Barbados Fertility Center offers the following information for patients pursuing IVF:
- If you test positive for the Zika virus before you start IVF, you will have lifelong immunity to the virus approximately one week after being infected.
- A blood test can detect if antibodies are present.
- Given the timing of IVF: stimulation, monitoring, retrieval and embryo transfer -- if a patient was infected during this time, transmission to the fetus would be limited due to the improbability of blood circulation between mother and fetus (fetal circulation).
- Prior to fetal circulation, it is probable that Zika infection would likely have no impact.
- If you exhibit signs of a Zika infection during the IVF process, report it to your medical team immediately. If you test positive for the virus, to determine if it is necessary to freeze your embryos and transfer them at a later date.
For up-to-date information about the Zika virus, visit the CDC website.