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Doctors Urge Expectant Mothers Not To Stress About Zika Virus

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - As if expectant Moms don't have enough to worry about, those pesky mosquitos are at it again. This time, the mosquito borne virus is called Zika—bringing with it symptoms far more serious than West Nile: it could be dangerous to unborn babies if their mothers are infected.

It's already sparking a panic in Brazil where health officials there have noted a tenfold increase in babies born with microcephaly, a disease characterized by an abnormally small brain and developmental delays. There is no vaccine and no known cure. Now, a case of Zika has been diagnosed in Houston. The patient recently travelled to an infected area.

"You worry" admits mom-to-be Leann Procell, "you worry the whole time." Procell is expecting her third child and says she is less anxious with this pregnancy. But, agrees that soon-to-be-moms have enough on their emotional plates. "To be expecting this baby, and all the joy that surrounds that and to be devastated with that outcome? Very troubling."

Nevertheless, the North Texas medical community is urging calm.

"I don't think American women need to be worried at this point," says Suzanne Whitworth, MD. Dr. Whitworth is an infectious disease specialist with Cook Children's in Fort Worth. "There has been one case that I'm aware of in Houston. That was a traveler that brought it here. Pregnant mothers have so many things to worry about—and I've been in those shoes! It's easy to worry. I don't think in the US, today, it is a significant concern for pregnant women because it's not here, yet."

However, Dr. Whitworth notes that the ease of international travel now makes the world much smaller. "Diseases that used to stay in one place aren't doing that anymore." Thus, theoretically, the Zika virus could eventually be a concern here. "Hugging a human with it is not going to give it to you. But, if a mosquito bites an infected person and then bites an uninfected person, it can be transmitted that way."

If you've still have concerns, experts are encouraging families to avoid 'Dr. Google' and ask their own.

"They get information overload at times," adds LeAnn Haddock, MD, a Baylor Medical Center ObGyn. "We sometimes have to talk a lot of women off of the cliff, so to speak, to dispel myths."

Still, it's never a good thing to get bitten by a mosquito. So, Dr. Haddock recommends taking routine precautions to avoid mosquito bites. And that's advice she gives her pregnant patients, as well. "Use mosquito repellant, especially with DEET… and it is okay for pregnant and breast feeding women."

As for Procell, she's following doctor's orders—especially the part about not worrying too much.

"I don't need to know what she knows," she adds with a laugh, "I just need to know that everything is okay with me and the baby."

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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