What Florida's expectant moms need to know about Zika Virus

Posted at 9:48 PM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 23:20:28-04
There is a new fear across Florida after Governor Rick Scott has confirmed four Zika cases in the state. The infection is from local mosquitos and not travel.
Most people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms, but for those who do, the illness is usually mild. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe fetal birth defects. 
Currently, there are no travel restrictions to the state of Florida.  
State officials said they have responded rapidly with mosquito control measures and a community-wide search for additional Zika cases. Under the current situation, there are no plans for limiting travel to the area.
Hanieh Pulver, a Tampa resident, is 32 weeks pregnant. Now that's there's locally-transmitted cases in Florida, she's wondering if she and her baby could be at risk for Zika.
"This is a good question I have to ask my doctor," Pulver said. "What am I supposed to do?"
There's been no locally transmitted cases specifically in the Tampa-Bay area, but still, some families are concerned.
"Now there's locally transmitted cases so now you have to watch out for mosquitos if you are trying to become pregnant," said Jeremy Kirtz, a new dad.
The Zika virus can cause serious birth defects in babies, especially for those still developing in the first and second trimesters.
"It does appear to be that the most severe cases have occurred with infection in early pregnancy," said Dr. Antoinina Watkins, a Brandon Regional Hospital OB-GYN.
But Watkins is not recommending every pregnant woman and their partner get tested for Zika. She said only those who have traveled to areas with high infection rates should get an immediate screening.  
"I don't think that you have to worry about every mosquito at this moment," Watkins said.
She says a Zika test is only necessary if you are showing symptoms like muscle aches or red eyes within two weeks of travel to places with high rates of infection. Watkins also says as the virus can be transmitted sexually, pregnant women can opt to use protection as another precaution against the virus.
No vaccines or treatments are currently available to treat or prevent Zika infections.
Because we are in mosquito season, CDC continues to encourage everyone, especially pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant, to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Remember to use an insect repellent  registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use or repair screens on windows and doors, use air conditioning when available, and remove standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
The CDC says any pregnant women should see their doctor with any questions about their risk. If you have questions, please call the Zika hotline at 1-855-622-6735.