Dallas County officials have officially reported that 10 pregnant women have tested positive for the Zika virus. The mosquito-borne illness is often benign in adults, but contracting it when pregnant can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly.
Each of the 10 pregnant women potentially carrying Zika came in contact with the disease is South America, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zach Thompson said Tuesday.
Thompson reiterated that, while there has not been a mosquito-transmitted case of Zika in Dallas County, residents should protect themselves from the potential threat. "Mosquito repellent needs to be used all day, every day," he said. "But at this point you shouldn't come to us if you're needing donated mosquito repellent because we haven't received any."
Anyone planning on spending time outside should, in addition to using mosquito repellent, dress in loose clothing, drain any standing water and limit outdoor activity during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active.
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Any Dallas County resident who returns to the county from a trip to Central or South America with Zika can get a kit from the county that includes mosquito repellent, mosquito killing water dunks and condoms to prevent potential sexual transmission. Women who contract the virus should wait two months after it clears their system before attempting to become pregnant. Men should wait six months before even thinking about getting someone pregnant.
"There's not a vaccine," Thompson said, "so this is what we're working with."
With all the attention that's been focused on Zika, Thompson said that it's important not to lose sight of Dallas County's traditional mosquito-borne enemy, the West Nile virus. "As far as we're concerned, the West Nile Virus is still public enemy No. 1," he said.