Ask the Doctor: Is Zika virus a risk for pregnant women in mosquito-ridden areas of the United States?

Q. My daughter, who just moved to Atlanta with her husband, is pregnant. I'm worried that she will be exposed to Zika virus once mosquito season gears up. What can she do to minimize the risk that her baby will have microcephaly?

A. You can relax. Although the mosquito that transmits Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is occasionally found in the southeastern United States, so far, there has been no mosquito-borne Zika transmission in the United States. However, your daughter may want to check the website of the CDC ( for updates, especially if she or her husband expects to travel to Latin America or the Caribbean. There have been reports that, rarely, Zika can be transmitted sexually from men to women. Therefore, men should use condoms if they have been exposed to the virus and their partner is pregnant. And since Atlanta has quite a few types of mosquitoes, she may want to know that insect repellents containing ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe to use during pregnancy.

-- Hope Ricciotti, M.D., and Hye-Chun Hur, M.D., M.P.H.
Editors in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

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