The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that health care providers in labor and delivery settings should use adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

Zika has been detected in bodily fluids, including blood, urine, saliva, and amniotic fluid, meaning that transmission theoretically could occur through exposure to such substances. Pregnant women can lose 500 mL or more of blood during deliveries, and amniotic fluid volume in a full-term delivery typically exceeds 500 mL, putting personnel in labor and delivery settings at risk, according to the CDC.

While no exposure has been reported during labor and delivery care, the CDC recommends that providers take steps to prevent

  • contact between bodily fluids and health care personnel’s mucous membranes, skin, or clothing;
  • the carrying of potentially infectious materials between patients; and
  • unnecessary exposure to contaminated materials.

The use of protective eye wear or face masks and double layers of gloves during labor and delivery procedures, including anesthesia, also is encouraged. According to the CDC report, all personnel on labor and delivery teams should use the same level of protection.

Meanwhile, updated guidance from CDC recommends that health care providers

  • advise women who have contracted Zika to wait at least eight months after symptoms first occurred before trying to conceive; and
  • advise men who have contracted Zika to wait at least six months after symptoms first occurred before having unprotected sex.

America’s Essential Hospitals has established a resource page dedicated to this emerging public health threat. Essential hospitals provide a significant volume of public health and emergency preparedness services and stand ready to support the nation’s response to Zika virus. Visit this page regularly for new and updated information.