Health officials are urging women to plan their pregnancies outside of the next year to protect their unborn children from birth defects, but will Jill Duggar oblige?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites. The disease is usually mild, with symptoms ranging from fevers to rashes, joint pain and red eyes (conjunctivitis), and is alleged to cause serious birth defects in the children of women with the Zika virus. As a result of these possible harms, the CDC has issued travel health notices for American women in South America, Central America, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and other regions where the Zika virus is reported to have been transmitted.
And the popular reality star is right in the middle of that region.
Duggar, sibling star of 19 Kids and Counting, is currently on a mission trip with her husband and son in El Salvador, where they’re at higher risk of contracting the Zika virus.
While the virus isn’t typically known to be deadly for adults or children, its effects on a fetus can be devastating. It is believed that the Zika virus can cause microcephaly in infants (very small, undeveloped brains and heads) and poor pregnancy outcomes. El Salvador’s Deputy Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza recently released a statement urging women of childbearing age to hold off on getting pregnant for the next two years as a way to prevent these possible birth defects.
But the Duggar family has made its stance on birth control clear: They don’t believe it is part of God’s will and are known for having back-to-back pregnancies. So what’s a girl to do? Will Jill Duggar allow the risk of the Zika virus to navigate her family planning, or will she put it in God’s hands? It’s got to be a tough call for someone so devout in their beliefs.
What she chooses is really up to her, but the debate over Duggar’s uterus is helping to shine a light on an important issue for everyday American women planning a trip to South America.
Jill Duggar isn’t alone in this struggle, as there is the potential for this virus to continue to spread. There have not yet been any reported cases of the virus in the continental United States, though there have been instances of it in returning travelers. The CDC states that with the recent outbreak it is likely the virus could continue to spread via people traveling to the United States from the affected areas.
So what can Jill — and other moms — do to help prevent themselves from contracting the virus? The CDC has shared a few guidelines:
- Use insect repellents as directed.
- When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Use air-conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes inside and outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.
And of course, heed the warnings about pregnancy.
If you feel that you or someone in your family has contracted this virus, it’s important that you visit your family care physician.