BERKELEY — As concerns about the Zika virus grow by the day, Oakland resident Brook Meakins is breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Meakins, who is pregnant with her first child, says test results last week confirmed that she does not have the mosquito-borne virus.
“We found out that we tested negative, and we are so relieved,” Meakins said in an email to this newspaper.
After she and her husband returned from a Christmastime vacation in Bora Bora in French Polynesia, she developed a rash and achy joints.
Because the 33-year-old Meakins is pregnant and exhibited symptoms of the disease, her doctor in January advised her to get tested because the virus can result in microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby’s head and brain are smaller than normal.
An Aedes aegipty female mosquito floats on stagnant water inside a tire at a used tire store in Villavicencio, Colombia, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. The Aedes aegipty is the vector that transmits the Zika virus, and also dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya. The females lay their eggs on damp surfaces where they breed. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
The World Health Organization last week declared a global health emergency after Brazilian authorities linked the virus to the birth defect. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that until more is known, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to the areas where the Zika virus is present.
In addition, the CDC says, women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult with their health care providers before traveling to certain countries. If those women do decide to travel, the CDC says, they should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
The Zika virus is currently concentrated in the Caribbean, Mexico, South and Central America countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua and Guatemala, and parts of the Pacific Islands. Before 2015, Zika virus outbreaks occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Brazilian health officials on Friday also said pregnant women should avoid kissing people other than their regular partners and sharing cutlery, glasses and plates with people who have symptoms of the virus. As the CDC did last week, they also called on men to use condoms with pregnant partners if they have visited countries where the virus is present.
A researcher at a national health institute in Brazil says scientists have found the Zika virus in saliva and urine samples — and the possibility it could be spread by the two bodily fluids requires further study.
There is no currently vaccine to prevent infection or medication to treat Zika.
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408-920-5343. Follow her at Twitter.com/taseipel.