Clinical |

ACOG Statement on Zika Virus Transmission

Washington, DC—Hal C. Lawrence, MD, Executive Vice President and CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), released the following statement regarding a new case of Zika virus in the United States:


“The Zika virus continues to be a growing public health concern in the United States. The new and unique case of Zika virus infection in Utah, associated with a very high Zika viral load, is under investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is important to note that at this time, Utah’s public health officials do not consider this new information to represent a threat to the general public. However, this case underscores the importance of funded research to determine the ways the Zika virus can be transmitted. ACOG will continue to work with the CDC to monitor this emerging information.

“This case also underscores the importance of health care providers adhering to standard precautions. Health care professionals who provide care to women during labor and delivery should be aware of the potential for transmission of the virus through bodily fluid. According to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released by the CDC, pregnant women lose an average of 500 mL of blood during an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, with higher blood loss during complicated deliveries or cesarean deliveries. The volume of amniotic fluid loss associated with a term delivery typically exceeds 500 mL.

“Because of this, and because women with Zika virus may be asymptomatic, it is essential for all obstetrical staff to have access to, and adhere to, all safety precautions as laid out by the CDC, specifically: 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.

“Use of standard safety precautions can help to protect labor and delivery staff. Although there are no reports of transmission of Zika virus from infected patients to health care personnel or other patients, minimizing exposures to bodily fluids is important to reduce the possibility of such transmission without compromising the care provided to women during childbirth. ACOG joins the CDC in emphasizing the importance of these precautions, especially now as new information continues to emerge.”

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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately more than 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.