Standard precautions to prevent transmission of Zika virus during pregnancies and deliveries

Recent research on the spreading of the Zika virus has documented, in addition to the well-know transmission of the disease through the bite of Aedes species of mosquitoes, the possibility of transmission by sexual contact. In fact, Zika virus RNA has been found in many types of body fluids and, while an explicit connection between exposure to infected body fluids and infection has not yet been proven, both health care personnel and patients should be protected from accidental contact. One of the settings in which this is of the utmost importance, is Labor and Delivery Setting, an environment in which the possibility of contact with infected body fluids is particularly high.

 

In order to minimize the risk of endangering both patients and health care personnel, the US CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends the use of Standard Precautions, that is, a series of actions that should be implemented by health care personnel to reduce to risk of contact with infectious material. Standard Precautions include: hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, safe injection practices and safe handling of potentially contaminated equipment or surfaces in the patient environment.

 

The use of Standard Precautions has been proven to be efficient in helping prevent the spreading of the virus, not only in Labor and Delivery Settings, but also in general Health Care Settings, as, in addition to preventing contacts between health care personnel and a patient’s body fluids, it also helps preventing the transportation of potentially infectious material among different patients and avoiding unessential exposure to contaminated material.

 

In any case, the risk for exposure and the consequent prevention measures to be implemented should be evaluated by the health care personnel on a case-by-case basis.

 

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