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New Zika Test Guidelines For Pregnant Women In Brownsville

Wendy Rigby
Texas Public Radio
Pregnant women who live in Brownsville or have traveled there since the end of October 2016 are being advised to get tested for the Zika virus.

Health officials have issued an advisory for pregnant women who live in or have traveled to Brownsville since the end of October to get tested for Zika. That new recommendation follows five locally-transmitted cases of Zika in Cameron County.


Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Daisy Garcia of Harlingen listens to her unborn baby's heartbeat.


Cameron County health officials say pregnant women who have been in Brownsville on or after October 29th of this year should talk to their medical providers about being tested for Zika.

This includes pregnant women with symptoms of Zika like rash, fever, joint pain or red eyes; pregnant women who live in or frequently travel to Brownsville or nearby Mexico and who are without symptoms in their first or second trimester; and pregnant women who are without symptoms but who have had even limited travel to Brownsville.

The Zika virus is transmitted through mosquito bites and unprotected sex with an infected partner.  It can affect unborn children by causing horrible, permanent birth defects.

Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo says testing is important since the disease is stealthy. "Eighty percent of people who get Zika have no symptoms," Castillo said. Yet, he is reassuring when he states, "I think the risk is very low for any individual."

The testing recommendations also extend to pregnant women who have had sex without a condom with a partner who lives in or has traveled to Brownsville since the end of October.

​On Dec. 14, 2016, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health Districtconfirmed the 20th case of Zika in San Antonio. Like the other 19, this patient caught Zika while traveling abroad.

Wendy Rigby is a San Antonio native who has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. She spent two decades at KENS-TV covering health and medical news. Now, she brings her considerable background, experience and passion to Texas Public Radio.