Zika Threat Heightens Stress For Expectant Mothers in South Texas

South Texas doctors are busy counseling their pregnant patients on how to protect their babies from the horrible birth defects that Zika can cause.

By Wendy RigbyAugust 23, 2016 9:30 am| , ,

From Texas Public Radio

The steady beat of her unborn baby’s heart is a comfort for Elizabeth Viccellio.  She lives in Brackettville, 35 miles from the border with Mexico, a country where Zika is already being spread by mosquitoes. But the health threat really hasn’t been on her radar.

“I’ve heard some things about it,” Elizabeth Viccellio said. “I haven’t really followed too much. I don’t have that many concerns ‘cause I don’t really feel like it’s here where it’s a big deal.”

No local Texas Zika cases yet

It’s true that no cases of local transmission by mosquitoes have shown up in Texas. Yet. Many infectious disease specialists say it’s not a matter of if, but when. A year ago, many obstetricians had never heard of this virus. Maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Patrick Ramsey of University Health System says now Texans have to pay attention.

“So that means we all need to be using mosquito repellents,” Ramsey cautioned. “We all should be trying to avoid travel to countries where there might be Zika infections prevalent. Because once the mosquito population does have the Zika virus then it can spread to anybody, men or women.”

Zika prevention methods

Women infected with Zika during the early stages of pregnancy have up to a 13 percent chance of delivering a baby with a small head and brain damage, a devastating condition called microcephaly plaguing several thousand babies in Brazil. It’s unclear what health problems Zika infections can cause in the second and third trimesters.  Microcephaly causes seizures, learning issues, vision loss and feeding problems.

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