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Test Pregnant Women in Miami for Zika: CDC

Test Pregnant Women in Miami for Zika: CDC

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By    |   Wednesday, 19 October 2016 07:51 PM

The Centers for Disease Control is calling upon all pregnant women exposed to Zika in Miami-Dade County to be tested for the virus.

Also on Wednesday, the nation’s top health agency called for pregnant women to avoid traveling to Miami Beach as well as to a one-mile area in Miami, which are the two hot zones where the disease is actively spreading.

The CDC issued its updated recommendations based on the intensity of which the disease was spreading and the risk it poses to women who are pregnant, the agency says.

“Zika continues to pose a threat to pregnant women living in or traveling to Miami-Dade County,” Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the agency’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, said in a statement.

“Our guidance today strengthens our travel advice and testing recommendations for pregnant women, to further prevent the spread of the infection among those most vulnerable,” Peterson added.

The CDC has divided Miami-Dade County into “red” and “yellow” zones depending on what the health agency perceives the risk to pregnant women to be.

State officials say there are 165 people infected with homegrown Zika in Florida, as well as 745 travel-related cases. These numbers don't include 110 pregnant women because the state provides no additional information about them.

Currently, the red areas are the 4.5-square-mile area of Miami Beach and the 1-square-mile area near the Little River neighborhood in Miami. The rest of Miami-Dade County is a yellow area, the agency says.

The red area is known as an “active transmission site,” and is where “officials have determined that the intensity of the Zika virus transmission presents a significant risk to pregnant women,” the CDC says.

The yellow area, which encompasses all of Miami-Dade County, is a “cautionary” zone “where local transmission has been identified, but evidence is lacking that the intensity of transmission is comparable to that in a red area,” the CDC says.

“Although the specific level of risk in yellow areas is unknown, there is still a risk to pregnant women. Additionally, areas adjacent or close to red areas may have a greater likelihood of local Zika virus transmission and are considered to pose a risk to pregnant women,” the statement adds.

Zika poses a special risk to pregnant women because the mosquito-borne disease raises the risk of microcephaly, which can cause babies to be born with severe brain damage.

The virus is primarily spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, but it can also be transmitted sexually, the CDC says.

These are the CDC’s updated testing Zika recommendations for Miami-Dade County:

  • Pregnant women who have lived in, traveled to, or had unprotected sex with someone who lived in or traveled to Miami-Dade County since Aug. 1 should be tested.
  • Pregnant women who have lived in, traveled to, or had unprotected sex with someone who lived in or traveled to the 4.5-square-mile area of Miami Beach with active spread of Zika virus since July 14 should be tested.

In terms of travel, the CDC says that pregnant women should not travel to these areas, and that women and men planning to get pregnant in the near future should consider avoiding nonessential travel to these areas.

These are the CDC’s updated travel recommendations:

  • Pregnant women should specifically avoid travel to the red areas because the intensity of Zika virus transmission confirmed in these areas is a significant risk to them. This is also true of women and men who are planning pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women should consider postponing travel to yellow areas of Miami-Dade County.

While there are thousands of Zika cases in the U.S., the red “hot” zones in Miami and Miami Beach are the only areas in the country where active transmission is underway, the CDC says.

The CDC's previous advisory advised pregnant women against nonessential travel in the county.

The Zika virus can make anyone sick for up to a week with the following flu-like symptoms:

  • Fever.
  • Rash.
  • Joint pain.
  • Red eyes.

There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, making prevention essential. Health experts recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors.
  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed.
  • Use repellents to keep mosquitoes away.
  • Use air conditioning and window screens if possible.
  • Call your health care provider if you are at risk of infection.

Last month, Consumer Reports released new rankings of mosquito repellents that offer the best protection against Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, the type that carry the Zika virus. They tested products containing deet, plantlike ingredients lemon eucalyptus and picaridin. The most effective products:

  • Sawyer Fisherman's Formula Picaridin.
  • Natrapel 8 Hour, with 20 percent picaridin.
  • Off! Deepwoods VIII, w/25 percent deet.
  • Repel Lemon Eucalyptus.

The magazine also recommended skipping products made with natural plant oils, such as California Baby Natural Bug Blend (a blend of citronella, lemongrass oil, cedar oil, and other ingredients) and EcoSmart Organic, (which includes geraniol, rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, and lemongrass oil).

Women who are pregnant or breast feeding can safely use deet, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535, according to the EPA.

Other tips for using insect repellents safely and effectively:

  1. Apply repellents sparingly, and only to exposed skin or clothing.
  2. Don’t apply repellents over cuts, wounds, irritated skin, or after shaving.
  3. When applying to your face, spray first on your hands, then rub in, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
  4. Don’t let young children apply repellents themselves
  5. Don’t use near food, and wash hands after application and before eating.
  6. At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again.

The CDC advises people returning from travel to areas where Zika is present should continue to wear mosquito repellant for three weeks and refer to the agency’s published guidelines regarding sexual transmission of the virus.


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With cases of Zika mounting in the Miami area, the CDC is recommending that all pregnant women there to be be tested for the disease.
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Wednesday, 19 October 2016 07:51 PM
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