El Paso man contracts Zika, health experts advise caution

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A travel warning for pregnant women is in effect for a Miami neighborhood. The Centers for Disease Control wants both women and men to take precautions in the Wynwood neighborhood, where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes. Cases elsewhere in the country have been linked to travel outside the United States.

But now officials say a Texas case has been linked to travel within the United States. An El Paso man, who recently traveled to an area of Miami with local Zika transmission, has tested positive.

Dr. Thomas Vaughn, a Fertility Specialist with Texas Fertility Center, says he’s been getting a lot of questions from his patients trying to get pregnant.

“The biggest questions are how do we avoid it, and what do we do?” said Dr. Vaughn. “We do have patients delaying pregnancy, hoping there will be a vaccination, but a vaccination may be a year or two away. That’s a long way away for a patient wanting to have a baby, particularly if she’s older.”

For months now, he’s told patients not to go to places like southern Florida, and now Miami. He says wherever you are, protecting yourself is key.

“There’s controversy about the repellents, are they safe, are they not? Use the benefit versus risk ratio, and even using DEET, the benefit seems to outweigh the risk because it’s such a devastating problem.”

Dr. Vaughn says pregnant women at risk for Zika can get tested. He wants to see testing available for more people.

“We would like to see any test important for the health of men and women be more available, no question about that,” said Dr. Vaughn. “It’s a really scary thing and we really want to give good advice to our patients.”

Austin mom Jessica Burleson didn’t have to worry about Zika for her first pregnancy nearly three years ago. Now, it’s a word she knows far too well.

“I had a lot of questions about what products to use, how to protect myself against Zika, and how prevalent it might be,” said Burleson. “There’s so many different concerns about being a new mother today.”

Burleson wanted to help other expecting moms with questions, writing a blog about Zika for the Austin Moms Blog.

“Because I’m pregnant, I was interested to do some more research and to find out what was really going on to see if I should be worried about anything,” said Burleson. “I like the natural remedies the best, but I was really interested to find that Consumer Reports did not recommend many natural remedies for preventing mosquito bites.”

While she remains cautious, she says she’s not overly concerned.

“I think it’s important to be aware of the issues and take precautions as much as possible, but we can’t always protect our children against everything in the world, we can only do our best. That’s the lesson I’ve learned being a new mom.”

Dr. Vaughn says it’s not the time to panic, it’s the time to be cautious.

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