Just when we thought we were safe from Zika, it turns out local transmission is taking place in a new area of Texas.
We thought we could exhale in the wake of Florida being declared Zika-free, until the CDC issued a new warning to pregnant women and their partners. The travel advisory strongly cautions expectant couples to postpone traveling to Brownsville, in Cameron County, Texas over potential Zika fears.
Five people have been locally infected with the mosquito-borne illness in the city, which borders Mexico, where the conditions are conducive to the spread of Zika. The CDC notes that due to the incubation period of two weeks, more cases may not yet have emerged.
In addition to this caution, the CDC's Dr. Denise Jamieson advises that if travel to the area cannot be avoided, that pregnant women take every measure possible to protect themselves against mosquito bites—and when they return from the area, they should undergo testing for Zika virus infection.
Brownsville residents and anyone who traveled to the city on or after October 29 should also be tested. Zika testing is recommended even in the absence of symptoms, as many infected people never show signs of having the virus. But while Zika can be innocuous for many, it's been well-documented that the virus can cause severe birth defects.
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Based on that risk, the CDC went a step further, recommending that couples in the area delay getting pregnant at this time, certainly a crushing blow to some families in the area. Those who visited the area should wait eight weeks before trying to conceive.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.