TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – In an unprecedented move, officials are warning pregnant woman not to travel to a popular arts district in Miami. The Centers for Disease Control calls this neighborhood a Zika virus “transmission zone.”
Fifteen cases of the virus were contracted in the arts district, Wynwood.
If mothers-to-be do travel to that area, they should either abstain from sex for the remainder of their pregnancies or use condoms.
In addition, women who are trying to get pregnant should wait at least two months to have sex if they’ve visited a Zika-infected area. For men who has visited transmission zones, the wait time is extended to six months.
Experts say mosquitoes with Zika may already be in other parts of Miami.
There is, indeed, growing concern the virus cannot be contained. The virus could be transmitted throughout Florida – and into the Tampa Bay area – if infected mosquitoes find human hosts, the experts say. Once a person is bitten and infected, he or she can then be bitten by another mosquito. After that, the mosquito, now infected, may bite someone else. One Zika mosquito can lay 100 eggs and bite up to six people, according to health officials.
Dr. Mary Ashley Cain is an assistant professor of maternal fetal medicine at the University of South Florida. “It is scary; you’re hearing about it on the news and online constantly,” Cain said.
The Tampa obstetrician knows about Zika fears all too well. She is experiencing them firsthand during her current pregnancy. Dr. Cain is seven and a half months along. She constantly thinks about mosquito repellent and protecting herself, as well as her patients. “We don’t know when this condition is going to go away; that if you’re planning one for the future, even a year from now, this may still be a problem next summer,” she said.
Cain tells her patients not to travel to Zika zones, such as the one in Miami.
“I don’t recommend you to travel to this area, that it’s really not recommended during pregnancy,” the doctor said.
But, if her pregnant patients have traveled to that area, or other hot zones across the world, she offers the following advice. “If your partner has traveled to one of those areas, then the choice is abstain or use protection for the remainder of the pregnancy,” Cain said. “And, that’s a long time.”
The fear among expectant mothers or women trying to get pregnant is the health of the baby. Babies can be born with a birth defect called Microcephaly, which inhibits brain development. Infants who have the condition are born with smaller heads and, in many cases, do not survive.
“We do not want to cause hysteria but we want to take this seriously. It is scary, and people need to protect themselves,” Dr. Cain said.