Federal health officials have urged pregnant women to postpone travel to Brownsville, Texas, over fears that mosquitoes there are spreading the Zika virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged family doctors to give pregnant women and their partners the warnings that they should seriously consider whether to travel to the city or not at this present time. The stark warning comes after five cases of the virus were diagnosed in people living close to each other in Brownsville, which sits on the Mexican border.
A statement released by the CDC said that if women did have to travel to the area, they should take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites. They are also been told they should be tested for Zika when they return from the Brownsville area.
Currently, Miami-Dade County in Florida is the only other American state to have Zika cases which are ‘homegrown’. Because temperatures in Brownsville are still high enough for mosquitos to breed, health officials say there is still a risk of further cases being diagnosed.
Zika is generally transmitted to people by mosquitoes who have previously fed on someone who has already been infected, although infection through sexual transmission is also possible. For most people, Zika carries no symptoms, or a very mild fever with possible rash and pain to the joints.
However, pregant woman are particularly at risk because Zika has been found to cause severe birth defects, including very small heads and brain defects. Thankfully, none of those diagnosed in Texas is pregnant. Anyone who is pregnant and has been in the area from October 29 onwards is being urged to get themselves tested for Zika. Anyone thinking about falling pregnant who lives in Brownsville is being urged to seek advice before they do. It may be that they want to put their plans on hold because of the potential risk.