CHRISTUS Health raises Zika virus awareness

Children's Hospital of San Antonio hosts free symposium on Zika virus

SAN ANTONIO – Heavy rain in May and the hot weather in June make for a combination ripe for mosquitoes.

With mosquitoes transmitting diseases like dengue fever, West Nile virus and now the Zika virus, CHRISTUS Health hosted a symposium Wednesday at Children's Hospital of San Antonio to educate the public and raise awareness about Zika.

"The Zika virus is going to be in your blood for seven to 10 days, so our recommendation is for those particular days to try to make sure you stay indoors," said Dr. Anil Mangla, assistant director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

Mangla said staying indoors is wise because once a mosquito bites an infected person, it can spread the disease to other people it bites. Doctors said that Zika can also be transmitted sexually.

"There's still a lot that's not known, so the recommendation for women who are thinking about getting pregnant that are coming from an affected area or have a partner in one of those areas, is to wait at least 8 weeks," said Dr. Marisol Garcia-Hodge, chief of obstetrics at Children's Hospital of San Antonio.

Metro Health officials said at this time, the risk of catching the Zika virus in San Antonio is very small.

"We have seven confirmed cases. We have about 49 that were negative, and 16 that are pending. Every one of those cases was acquired internationally," Mangla said.

But he said it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Thirty-three percent of mosquitoes in Bexar County are Aedes aegypti, the type known to transmit the Zika virus.

Doctors said the best prevention tips are to use mosquito repellent and to get rid of any containers filled with standing water.

Metro Health officials said they are aggressively monitoring Zika cases and the local mosquito population for the virus. They said anyone who suspects they might be carrying the virus should see a doctor to get tested.