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Shannon Dillon

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Protecting Yourself from the Zika Virus
Confirmed cases of Zika are increasing worldwide, however there are some precautions you can take to protect you and your family. Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquito. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the infected mosquitoes live in some parts of the United States as well as other parts of the world. While anyone is at risk of contracting the disease, pregnant women are most at risk, because Zika can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

“Women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant in the coming months should be cautious about Zika, but there is no need to panic,” says Jeanne Smith, MD, obstetrics & gynecology at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital.

When contracted by pregnant women, Zika can cause the neurological defect known as microcephaly, or incomplete brain development, in their newborn babies. It is less serious in non-pregnant adults and children, causing fever, joint/muscle pain and conjunctivitis, commonly known as “pink eye.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 108 cases of Zika have been diagnosed in Texas and 2,260 cases nationwide have been reported as of August 19, 2016.

“Zika can be transmitted during sex by a man who is infected, so it is important that expectant fathers, or those planning a family soon, protect themselves, too,” said Smith.

She also recommends that women and their partners wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside, especially during the daytime hours, when the Aedes mosquito is more likely to bite.

“If women are concerned about their risk, or their partners’ risk, they should talk to their OB/GYN,” she said.

Along with proper clothing, using insect repellent regularly – and properly – is an important component in protecting against Zika,” said Maryum Zohair, internal medicine physician at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital.

“Insect repellents with DEET or picaridin, in concentrations of up to 30 percent, offer excellent protection from the mosquito that carries Zika,” said Zohair. “Some of the most effective brands are available in local stores or online, and can provide protection for up to eight hours. If you are planning on being outside this summer, it’s important to use a good repellent. First put on sunscreen, then apply the repellent on top.”

Apply all repellents lightly on exposed skin and clothing, since studies show that heavy doses don’t necessarily work better. When applying to your face, spray the repellent on your hands first and then rub it in. Be sure to wash your hands after application and before eating or drinking.

“Don’t forget to protect children as well, with long sleeves and pants and insect repellent,” advised Zohair. “An adult should apply the repellent and avoid putting it on a child’s hands to protect against accidental ingestion. And don’t use repellent on babies younger than two months old.”

Visit www.cdc.gov/zika for more information about the Zika virus and ways to protect yourself and your loved ones. Visit houstonmethodist.org/willowbrook for more information about services available at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital.

 

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About Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital

Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital is a 312 bed, not-for-profit, faith-based hospital, which is part of Houston Methodist. The hospital has expanded in Northwest Houston to serve the comprehensive health care needs of the growing community. 

Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has been named a Magnet recognized health care facility by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program®

Houston Methodist Willowbrook is ranked No. 8 in the Houston metro area and No. 19 in Texas by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” in 2016.
Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital is a regional referral center specializing in cardiology and cardiovascular services, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics and sports medicine, and comprehensive cancer services. Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has a Breast Care Center, Cancer Center, Imaging Center, Infusion Center Sleep Center, Surgical Weight Loss Center and operates the largest Childbirth Center in the Greater Northwest Houston area.

For more information on the comprehensive services available on the Houston Methodist Willowbrook campus and to learn about upcoming events, please visit houstonmethodist.org/willowbrook.  To find a physician, call 281.737.2500.