What Are We Doing to Get Ready for Zika in the United States? Medscape Asks and the CDC Answers

CDC Division of Vector-Borne Diseases; CDC Division of Congenital Developmental Disorders

May 04, 2016

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

Enhanced mosquito control

Medscape: Are there plans for special outreach, at a local level, to those who are pregnant or may soon become pregnant?

Pregnant women are at risk for Zika virus infection if:

  • They live in or have traveled to a Zika-affected area; or

  • Their male sex partners live in or have traveled to a Zika-affected area.

To prepare for local transmission of Zika virus in the continental United States, CDC has developed many health communication materials and guidelines. These materials have been shared extensively through a variety of sources. In the event of local transmission of Zika virus, state and local public health officials would lead local outreach to pregnant women and the community. CDC, if invited by the state, would be available to provide additional support.

Medscape: What are some of the other public health plans that clinicians should be aware of at this point in time?

Healthcare providers are our first critical link to recognizing cases of Zika virus infection in the United States. Local, state, and federal public health authorities rely on clinicians to recognize, test for, and report probable and confirmed cases of Zika virus infection. Early reporting of suspected cases to state or local health departments will help to facilitate the diagnosis and mitigate the risk for local transmission. State or local health departments are encouraged to report laboratory-confirmed cases to CDC through ArboNET, the national surveillance system for arboviral disease.

There is still much we don't know about Zika infection during pregnancy and how the virus affects infants. To understand more about Zika virus infection, CDC established the US Zika Pregnancy Registry and is collaborating with state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments to collect information about pregnancy and infant outcomes following Zika virus infection during pregnancy. The data collected will be used to update recommendations for clinical care, plan for services for pregnant women and families affected by Zika, and improve prevention of Zika virus infection during pregnancy. This information will also help to direct public health action related to Zika virus and guide testing, evaluation, and management.