Pregnant Bay Area women worried about spread of Zika

Image 1 of 2

Tuesday's announcement of a non-travel related case of the Zika virus in Pinellas County is a reminder of how important it is to protect yourself and your family.

That's especially true if you're pregnant. Perhaps having the locally-transmitted cases on the east coast gave us a tiny sense of security. It was happening over there, not here, but now, in the Bay Area, Zika is a fact of life.

"Not necessarily worried," said Mauricio Cabrera of Tampa.

Though Cabrera is not in a high-risk group, he still wants nothing to do with the virus.

"Bug spray," Caberera said regarding his preventative measures. "The usual. We are in Florida. There are a lot of bugs. A lot of mosquitoes can pick up a bunch of different stuff."

It's part of the lesson plan, too.

An e-mail went out to all Pinellas County school principals Tuesday, assuring them that all schools use air conditioning and have no standing water around.

The message also said that "concerned parents should spray their students skin and clothing with insect repellent before coming to school. Many brands of repellent last up to 8 hours, so spraying before coming to school should provide coverage for the school day."

"It really strikes a little harder when you think, this can really actually happen and I think a lot of pregnant women are really feeling like that today," said Dr. Mary Ashley Cain.

Cain specializes in maternal-fetal medicine. She's also weeks away from delivering her own baby. So, a local, non-travel related case of Zika has her full attention, professionally and personally.

"Now, patients are starting to say how is this going to affect my pregnancy," Cain said.

She's advising pregnant patients to stay indoors or screened areas, to wear deet-containing repellent outside and to spray clothing with deterrent called "Permethrin."

WATCH: Officials continue to update public on Zika spread

Governor Rick Scott ordered all county health departments to give Zika tests to pregnant women, free of charge. Though doctors are currently only testing patients who've traveled to known Zika areas, or whose partners have, that could change.

"If this becomes an area of known transmission then we will increase our screening," Cain said.
Even if you're not pregnant, health officials advise wearing long sleeves and pants. If you've traveled to a known area of Zika transmission and are sexually active, consider using condoms for at least 8 weeks.

As for infants under two months, bug spray isn't recommended. Instead, cover their arms and legs and use mosquito nets on their carriers and strollers.

Of course, one of the best preventative measures is to stop mosquitoes from breeding in the first place. Officials are continually asking people to check their yards for any standing water and pour it out. And, here's something you might not have considered: Dr. Cain said Zika-carrying mosquitoes can live inside your home, so even your indoor flower vases potentially harbor mosquito eggs.