Federal health officials with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned pregnant women on Wednesday not to visit Brownsville, Texas, because of the threat of contracting the Zika virus from mosquitoes in the area. In the last few weeks, there have been at least five cases of Zika being transmitted by local mosquitoes in Brownsville, prompting the warning from the CDC.
The New York Times reported that warm temperatures in the city are still allowing the mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus to thrive. Brownsville, Texas is on the border with Mexico, an area that has had a problem with local transmission of the virus for many months.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the CDC’s Dr. Denise Jamieson said it is recommended that pregnant women not travel to Brownsville. She added that, if pregnant women do travel there, they should undergo Zika testing.
The Huffington Post reported that CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the agency is gathering and analyzing new information every day. He said that the Zika virus appears to have been spreading in the Brownsville, Texas area for several weeks now, prompting the issuing of the warning to pregnant women.
Not only is the CDC warning pregnant women to avoid traveling to Brownsville, Texas, the agency is also suggesting that any pregnant women who currently reside in Brownsville or Cameron County do everything possible to avoid mosquito bites. Pregnant women living in the area are being advised to use condoms for the duration of their pregnancies.
In addition, the CDC is suggesting that women and couples living in Brownsville and Cameron County who are even considering pregnancy should discuss their reproductive plans with their doctors. Health care providers should talk to couples about the risk Zika presents.
Officials with the CDC said that any women who think they may have been exposed to Zika should delay getting pregnant by at least eight weeks. Also, men who have been exposed to the Zika virus, or who think they were, should wait a minimum of six months prior to impregnating a woman, as the virus is known to remain in semen long after an infection.
The Huffington Post reported that the CDC is recommending that women and their partners who live in or have traveled to Brownsville after October 29 and who are of reproductive age should get tested for Zika. Brazil had an outbreak of Zika virus in 2015, and “has since confirmed more than 2,200 cases of the birth defect.”
According to U.S. News & World Report, Florida has had homegrown Zika cases as well. In Miami-Dade County, the CDC has issued a similar Zika virus warning.
By John Samuels