Should Pregnant Women Avoid Swimming Pools Because Of Zika This Summer?


One of the toughest aspects of being pregnant is staying cool. I was pregnant with my son in the summer and I remember basically parking myself at the beach or my friend's swimming pool for about a month, just trying not to melt. That was before, of course. Before mosquitoes and standing water became Public Enemy Numer One for expectant moms. Now the question of whether or not pregnant women should avoid swimming pools because of the Zika virus is weighing heavily on many.

Two women from Connecticut were reported to have contracted the Zika virus on Thursday, one of whom is pregnant. The women were each visiting the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico when they were infected, according to state officials. The Department of Health reports that this brings the number of Zika-related illnesses in Connecticut to six. Earlier in April, a pregnant teen named Sara Mujica from Danbury also contracted the Zika virus while visiting her father in Honduras. She told the Associated Press:

I was in a state of shock, honestly. I didn't really know what to say. I didn't know what to do. I just started getting teary eyed and almost crying. I was just trying to stay strong.

The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and through sexual intercourse with a man who has contracted the virus. It is especially dangerous for pregnant women as the virus has been linked to microcephaly (when a baby is born with a small head and brain), as well as the degenerative disease Guillain-Barré syndrome, a sickness of the nervous system that can cause paralysis.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant avoid standing water. The Aedes Aegypti, or "container-breeding mosquito", prefers to lay its eggs in and around standing water, especially water stored in man-made containers (like swimming pools).

RECIFE, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 03: Resident Joana Dark (C), 8 months pregnant, sits in their community constructed along a polluted canal on February 3, 2016 in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. Residents said several members of the community were currently sick with mosquito-borne illnesses including the Zika virus. In the last four months, authorities have recorded thousands of cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. Microcephaly results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders. The state with the most cases is Pernambuco, whose capital is Recife, and is being called the epicenter of the outbreak. Officials say as many as 100,000 people may have already been exposed to Zika in Recife, although most never develop symptoms. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Pregnant women should remove all standing water containers in the home like:

  • Vases
  • pet water bowls
  • flowerpot saucers
  • discarded tires
  • buckets
  • pool covers
  • birdbaths
  • trash cans, and
  • rain barrels.
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - APRIL 20: Giraldo Carratala, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, looks at mosquito larva in a sample of water that he took from a pool of standing water before using a pesticide to eradicate the larva as the county continues to be proactive in fighting a possible Zika virus outbreak on April 20, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Florida Health officials yesterday announced three new cases of Zika virus in Miami-Dade county which brings the statewide total to 91 people infected by the disease since February, with nearly all of Florida's cases being acquired by people traveling outside the country. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Standing water with organic matter like leaves, debris, and grasses is even more likely to become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, as the matter provides the larvae with food. If a pregnant woman plans on using an outdoor swimming pool this summer, they should make sure the pool is properly chlorinated and that the chemistry has been maintained.

While it might be difficult to avoid standing water this summer (especially if you have other little ones in swimming lessons), taking preventative measures to keep safe should offer expectant mothers peace of mind. And remember, there are always indoor pools, right?