Widespread concern of the recent Zika virus outbreak has Castle Rock doctors and residents concerned, and holding discussions about preventative options. Medical professionals throughout the Denver Metro area are seeing an increase in concerns and questions among many patients – especially among those who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant.

More About the Zika Virus in Douglas County

The virus, according to the World Health Organization, originated in West Africa then South and Central America, before spreading to the United States. The highest number of confirmed cases in the U.S. was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2015 and 2016, with 258 travel-related cases as of March 16, eighteen of which were pregnant women.

The Zika Virus is transmitted through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which thrives in heated climates. Colorado is not home to the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but the insect can be found in Florida, Texas, Arizona, Georgia and California. The Zika virus is believed to be the cause of microcephaly, a rare condition in which infants are born with smaller heads and neurological problems. Brazil has experienced a large increase in microcephaly cases, a place where the aedes aegypti lives in mass population.

While the mosquito is the most common transmitter of the virus, it can also be sexually transmitted, raising concerns for those who are pregnant, as well as their male partners. The Scientific correlation between Zika and microcephaly is still being evaluated, but precautionary measures for would-be mothers and their partners is highly encouraged.

Colorado has seen two confirmed travel-related Zika cases among its residents, but the high level of concern is not as prevalent in the centennial state as it has been in southern states. The widespread CONCERN of the virus has led many Colorado residents to forgo vacations and travel to areas that have been affected by the virus.

Those infected often go without noticing any symptoms. Doctors advise couples who wish to have children to avoid getting pregnant for at least 12 weeks following any travel to affected areas. Many doctors are avoiding travel to Zika infected areas unless completely necessary – especially women considering getting pregnant.

Anyone who has traveled to affected areas or live in states where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is present should educate themselves, avoid sexual contact, and visit the doctor for a screening following the trip. Both women and men are urged to take precaution, because medical professionals are still uncertain of how long the virus can live in semen. The virus cannot be transmitted by mosquitos in Colorado, and Zika typically stays in a woman’s system for one week.