Recently, a CDC statement confirmed a link between the Zika virus and the development of microcephaly in fetuses of pregnant women. I spoke again with our resident expert, Patrick S. Ramsey, MD, MSPH, of the University of Texas Health Science Center.
“There really is no change in the level of concern today than when I spoke with you in February,” said Dr. Ramsey. “The CDC announcement is a formal confirmation of what was originally suspected. It doesn’t change precautions for pregnant women and their partners.”
“From the Brazilian cases, we knew there was a link between Zika and microcephaly. Now, we have one case of fetal microcephaly at Johns Hopkins Hospital.” This case was documented in a recent New England Journal of Medicine. Right now, it is the only case of microcephaly related to Zika in the United States. It involves a couple from Finland who traveled to Guatemala.* Each developed Zika with symptoms and tested positive. Several weeks later, their fetus developed microcephaly.
Dr. Ramsey went on to explain, “There have been four confirmed cases of Zika in Bexar County and 29 in the state of Texas. All were acquired from travel. One was a male who traveled and later gave it to his pregnant wife through sexual contact. There have been no cases of microcephaly related to Zika in Texas.”
To minimize risk:
All pregnant women and their partners should avoid travel to countries where Zika is endemic. These countries are listed in a CDC travel advisory.
Precautions should be taken to avoid mosquitoes and mosquito bites (mosquito repellents, long-sleeved clothing, avoiding mosquito infested areasm etc.).
Locally, you should know San Antonio includes mosquitoes that could potentially expose one to Zika virus. However, as of mid-April, 2016, they’ve found no Zika in the local mosquito population. “Today, (April 15, 2016) the local (San Antonio) residents who are not traveling, essentially have no risk. If in the future, Zika is identified in the mosquito population in South Texas, the above precautions should minimize risk.” Pregnant women and anyone in San Antonio and the surrounding area should check yards for areas with free-standing water. There areas can be breeding ground for mosquitoes and should be removed. “Minimizing these potential breeding grounds will help reduce mosquitoes and overall concern,” said Dr. Ramsey.
*The CDC lists a travel advisory for Guatemala because there is a risk for contracting the Zika virus.
Go here for a CDC list of countries with Zika travel advisories and recommended precautions to protect pregnant women and their partners.
As always, Alamo City Moms Blog directs you to your health care provider for the best information on taking care of yourself, your children, and your family. We are also happy to provide these tips from our sponsor, Mosquito Squad, to keep your family safe this summer!
Based on more than 10 years’ experience treating hundreds of thousands of yards, Mosquito Squad recommends that homeowners walk their yards several times a week and take action to reduce mosquito breeding:
- TIP over anything that holds or collects water. A bottle cap filled with water holds enough water for mosquitoes to breed. Since mosquitoes breed in standing water, the elimination of standing water decreases a mosquito’s breeding ground. Squad technicians report that yards with bird baths, play sets with tire swings, tree houses, portable fireplaces and pits and catch basins are the biggest offenders.
- TOSS any yard trash including clippings, leaves and twigs. Even the smallest items can provide a haven for mosquitoes and increase the population.
- TURN over items that could hold water and trash. Look for children’s portable sandboxes, slides or plastic toys; underneath and around downspouts; in plant saucers, empty pots, light fixtures and dog water bowls. Eliminate these items or keep them turned over until used.
- REMOVE TARPS that can catch water. Many homeowners have tarps or covers on items residing in their outdoor spaces. If not stretched taut, they are holding water. Check tarps over firewood piles, portable fire places, recycling cans, boats, sports equipment and grills. Use bungee cords to secure tarps in the yard.
- TAKE CARE of your home. Proper maintenance can be a deciding factor in property values and mosquito bites. Regularly clean out gutters and make sure the downspout is attached properly. Re-grading areas where water stands more than a few hours, and to regularly check irrigation systems to ensure that they aren’t leaking and causing a breeding haven. Keep lawn height low and areas weed-free.
- TEAM UP. Despite taking all precautions in your own home, talking with neighbors is a key component to mosquito and tick control. Townhomes and homes with little space between lots mean that mosquitoes can breed at a neighbor’s home, and affect your property.
- TREAT. Utilize a mosquito elimination barrier treatment around the home and yard. Using a barrier treatment at home reduces the need for using DEET-containing bug spray on the body.