'I AM SCARED TO HAVE MY CHILD' *Pregnant women fearful after ZIKV advisory


January 21, 2016


*Pregnant women fearful after ZIKV advisory

"God have mercy upon us!"

That was the cry of a four-month pregnant woman, Moesha Richards, following the Ministry of Health's recent Zika Virus (ZIKV) advisory, warning women about the possible adverse effects of the virus on unborn babies.

According to the ministry, ZIKV has been linked to microcephaly, which is an abnormal smallness of the head that is associated with an underdeveloped brain. As a result, babies affected by the disease may not live to full term, may be born prematurely, may be stillborn or may survive, but with a life-long disability.

This is worrisome news for pregnant women like Richards, since the virus, for which there is no cure, has already been confirmed in 16 countries in the Americas, including Barbados, Guyana, and Haiti.

"No one wants a retarded child. Imagine you go through nine months and then it comes out retarded, No sah! I would be devastated, it would be such an excruciating feeling!" exclaimed Richards.

Her fear of contracting the virus is heightened by the fact that she does not believe the authorities are doing enough to combat ZIKV.

"I have a mosquito net and repellent to protect myself, but the Government should also play their part. How are they going to give out advisory to warn us, but then they not doing their part to help us. If they don't clean up the whole place to get rid of the mosquitoes, it doesn't make sense," she said.

national drive

With the virus coming closer to the country, Minister of Health, Horace Dalley, is urging Jamaicans to get directly involved in the national drive to decrease the breeding of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit the virus. In addition, Caribbean Cement Company Limited has committed $2.3 million to train and employ 100 workers for two weeks to carry out vector-control activities in nearby communities.

Like Richards, other expectant mothers have expressed similar sentiments. Eighteen-year-old Shanique Whyte, who is pregnant with her first child, says she is constantly worried. Despite taking the necessary precautions, she said the fear is still present.

"It's pure frustration and all these things because me no want nothing wrong with me baby," Whyte said, adding that she feels helpless with the virus sure to enter the country.

virus based

Although the virus is said to only affect pregnant mothers in the earliest stages of pregnancy, expectant mothers in their second and final trimester are also concerned about the possible effects of ZIKV on their unborn children.

Yanique Muir, who is nine months pregnant, says she is still on edge because research on the link between ZIKV and pregnancy is still not conclusive.

"I still take preventative measures because what if it can still affect us and they [the doctors and researchers] don't know? I don't want to be the one to prove that it can affect the older pregnancies, so I still use the insect repellent," Muir said.

Despite the fears among many pregnant women, there are those who feel reassured that they are safe from the effects of the virus based on their preventative measures and the stage of their pregnancy.

Roshania Sterling, who is due to give birth next week, said she is not worried about her child or pregnancy, but she remains careful.

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