The Texas Department of State Health Services is reminding pregnant women who cross the border with Mexico that Zika testing is available to them and encourages them to discuss testing with their health care providers. Under current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Zika testing is recommended for any pregnant woman who has traveled to a country with ongoing Zika transmission, including those who regularly cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
DSHS also reminds health care providers to assess their pregnant patients for possible Zika virus exposure at each prenatal care visit. CDC and DSHS recommend testing for Zika antibodies as a part of routine prenatal care during the first and second trimesters in pregnant women with an ongoing risk of Zika exposure.
This reminder is especially important for pregnant women with regular, frequent travel to any part of Mexico during the peak mosquito season of August through October or who have a sexual partner with regular, frequent travel, defined as crossing the border weekly or more often.
DSHS is interested in expanding the amount of Zika testing being done in Texas, particularly in communities along the border considered to be at a higher risk of local transmission because of their geography and history of outbreaks of dengue, a similar virus spread by the same types of mosquitoes.
Pregnant women are a particular focus because of the risk of birth defects associated with Zika. They should avoid travel to countries with a CDC Zika travel notice and prevent sexual transmission by using condoms or not having sex with partners who have traveled to those areas. Information for travelers, including a link to CDC’s travel notices, is atwww.TexasZika.org/travelers.htm.
Additionally, everyone can help prevent the spread of Zika by mosquito bites by:
- Using EPA-approved insect repellent. Repellents are safe to use during pregnancy when applied according to the label instructions.
- Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts that cover exposed skin.
- Using air conditioning or window and door screens that are in good repair to keep mosquitoes out of their homes.
- Removing standing water in and around homes, including water in trash cans, toys, tires, flower pots and any other container that can hold water.
Texas has had 229 reported Zika cases, all related to travel, including two cases transmitted via sexual contact with someone infected overseas and two infants who were infected before birth. For more information on Zika, including the latest testing criteria for health care providers, visit www.TexasZika.org.