We recently reported some relatively good news about the Zika virus that has dominated headlines and parents' fears the past several months: that children do not appear to be more adversely affected by the mosquito-borne illness than adults (when the infection occurs after birth).
Now, a new study offers additional hope about the scary, birth-defect-causing virus; namely, that once you have been infected, you are less likely to be infected again. In other words, infection offers immunity, and a better chance for a healthy pregnancy and baby for women and men who had Zika and want to conceive in the future.
Stephen Higgs, director of the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University, elaborates on the finding, saying, "The research shows that infection provides excellent protection against reinfection." He adds this positive forecast: "This means people infected during this current epidemic will likely not be susceptible again. When a large proportion of the population is protected—known as herd immunity—the risk of future epidemics may be low."
Of course, this news doesn't mean that couples that are TTC should stop their Zika prevention efforts, such as abstaining from sex, or using a condom during intercourse for up to six months following a potential exposure, and avoiding travel to active infection areas. Because the dangers of Zika for unborn babies is still very real.
In fact, as HealthDay News reports, Higgs and his team found that Zika is present in one's blood early on after infection, and may remain in some bodily tissue for quite some time. While the virus was undetectable in blood and urine after just a few weeks, Zika was detectable in saliva and semen after three weeks. That means sexual transmission is possible for a while after infection, and underscores the importance of taking the appropriate prevention measures.
Still, let's be happy that the future looks bright for people who have or had Zika, and still hope to become parents. And that this current epidemic may be the worst of it.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.