CDC, county advise Zika testing for pregnant women in Brownsville

December 15, 2016 GMT

In response to the five locally transmitted cases of Zika in Brownsville, health officials in Cameron County are issuing new guidance for pregnant women in the area.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday designated Brownsville as a Zika cautionary (yellow) area. In other words, it advises pregnant women visiting the city to follow testing and travel guidance.

In a press release issued Wednesday, the Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all pregnant women who live in or have traveled to Brownsville be tested for Zika. The Texas Department of State Health Services also recommends all pregnant Brownsville residents and those who traveled to the city on or after Oct. 29 be tested for Zika.

“By expanding testing guidelines, we want to provide pregnant women with the necessary information about their health and their pregnancy,” said Dr. James W. Castillo, Cameron County Health Authority. “It’s important that pregnant women have a discussion with their medical providers about Zika testing.”


The same recommendations also apply to pregnant women who have had sex with a partner who lives in or has traveled to Brownsville.

There are two types of testing to show whether a patient has contracted Zika, Castillo said.

The first is a blood or urine test, which will identify if a person has recently had the virus.

The second test can determine if the person has had the virus during the past few months, by looking for the virus’ effect on the immune system.

Women should be able to get their testing done at their physician’s office, Castillo said.

“The effort is to make that test available to pregnant women … by working with providers, and making tests available to them through private labs or state labs,” Castillo said.

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