A woman considering pregnancy should factor in many considerations, including age and the threat of the Zika virus

Houston Methodist offers advice on Zika, pregnancy risks

Utsavi Shah, M.D. (Submitted photo)

On Nov. 28, 2016, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported the state’s first case of local mosquito-borne Zika virus infection in Brownsville.

While that’s far from the Fort Bend County area, those who are pregnant might still be feeling apprehensive about the news, given the birth defects linked to the virus.

“In our area, there’s really no need to panic,” said Utsavi Shah, M.D. “Right now, we’re counseling patients more on the travel advisories — not traveling to places like Brownsville and Mexico — and writing letters to airlines to get our patients out of their scheduled trips. This also affects significant others, because if they are infected, they could sexually transmit the virus to their loved one. In fact, the experts are recommending waiting six months after traveling to an affected area before trying to conceive.”

ARE YOU AT RISK?

Anyone who hasn’t had Zika before can be infected; being pregnant doesn’t make you more susceptible. In addition to mosquito bites and sexual transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s likely Zika can be spread through blood transfusions.

Many people who are infected don’t know they are because Zika doesn’t always produce symptoms. Common symptoms included fever, rash and joint pain, among others.

Since there’s currently no vaccine for Zika, the best way to prevent it is to follow these tips:

  • Avoid areas where the virus is present (available on the CDC website)
  • Use EPA-approved insect repellents (such as those containing DEET or picaridin)
  • Wear clothing treated with permethrin (insect repellent) that covers your arms and legs
  • Spend time indoors or in spaces protected by window and door screens
  • Be diligent about removing areas of standing water around your home, where mosquitoes can lay eggs

To learn more about the Houston Methodist Childbirth Center at Sugar Land, go to houstonmethodist.org/childbirth-sl.

Pondering pregnancy seminar

If getting pregnant is a matter you are seriously considering, don’t miss Houston Methodist Sugar Land’s expert panel discussion about preparation for a healthy pregnancy, including improving fertility, pregnancy after age 35, Zika update, a pregnancy to-do list and caring for a newborn. The seminar will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14, at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Brazos Pavilion Conference Center. Registration is required.

For more information or to register, visit events.houstonmethodist.org/pondering-sl or call 281-274-7500.

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