Note: This news release was updated on Dec. 15 to clarify that the new testing guidance applies only to pregnant women.
Dec. 14, 2016
As state and local health departments investigate five locally transmitted cases of
Zika virus disease in a small area of Brownsville, the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention has issued updated guidance for pregnant women living in
and traveling to Brownsville.
While the risk of
exposure in Brownsville is thought to be low, in accordance with the CDC
guidance, the Texas Department of State Health Services recommends all pregnant
Brownsville residents and pregnant women who travel there on or after Oct. 29 be tested for Zika. Residents
and frequent travelers, who visit Brownsville on a daily or weekly basis,
should get routine Zika testing once during the first trimester of their pregnancy
and once during the second trimester. Pregnant women with limited travel should
discuss it with their doctor and be tested based on when the travel occurred.
Because of the risk of sexual transmission, the same recommendations apply to pregnant women who have sex without a condom with a partner who is a Brownsville
resident or traveler.
Health care providers can find more detailed
testing guidance in the CDC health alert. DSHS is also emphasizing its
previous guidance to test pregnant women who have Zika symptoms or who travel
to Mexico or other areas where mosquitoes are spreading Zika.
“Right now, we’re aware that local
transmission has occurred in a small area of Brownsville,” said Dr. John
Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “However, we want to cast a wide net with
testing to develop a clearer picture of what is happening with Zika in the area
and provide pregnant women with more information about their health.”
Health officials continue to recommend
pregnant women avoid travel across the border to Mexico, given the ongoing local transmission of
Zika there. DSHS also continues to urge everyone strictly follow personal
precautions against Zika, including the use of mosquito repellent and wearing
long sleeves and pants. DSHS particularly urges the use of these precautions in
higher risk areas along the border and during any travel to areas with active
Zika virus is
transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito,
though it can also spread by sexual contact. The four most common symptoms are
fever, itchy rash, joint pain and eye redness. While symptoms are usually
minor, Zika can also cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, and
other poor birth outcomes in some women infected during pregnancy. More
guidance for clinicians, recommendations for the public and updated case counts
are available at TexasZika.org.
(News Media Contact: Chris
Van Deusen, DSHS Director of Media Relations, 512-776-7753)
DSHS Press Office on Twitter