Aug 22, 2012

West Nile Virus and Pregnancy

I have gotten a lot of tweets, emails, and Facebook messages about West Nile Virus and pregnancy, so I am going to attempt to brain dumb.

First some background, I am on bed rest and so have a lot of time to research and watch the news. West Nile has made huge headlines in Dallas County (where I live) for most of the summer. The CDC is calling this the largest West Nile outbreak ever in the U.S., with over four times the usual number of cases. Of those, over half are in Texas and nearly a quarter are in the Dallas Metroplex (Source). In fact, with over 500 West Nile cases and 16 deaths in DFW, both Dallas County and the City of Dallas have declared a state of emergency. Other DFW counties/cities have followed. Specifically in Dallas County, their have been 278 reported cases and 11 deaths. 11 cases are in my specific zip code, with 2 in my local little neighborhood (Source1 Source2).

In light of the severity of the West Nile outbreak, most of the cities in Dallas County have opted to move beyond ground spraying and engage in aerial spraying of a chemical called Duet. This is a synthetic compound which acts as an adulticide and kills all adult mosquitoes in its path.

As a woman pregnant with two helpless babies who solely rely on me on for their safety, I am thankful this is being taken so seriously. Their is little research on West Nile in pregnancy as only 77 pregnant women are known to have gotten the virus according to the CDC. However, they take the risks quite seriously. While bug sprays containing DEET are not typically recommended during pregnancy, they are if you live in a West Nile hot spot. This is because it is possible to pass West Nile Virus Disease to the unborm child, resulting in neurological problems. West Nile Virus is no joke people!

Therefore, I am firmly in favor of aerial spraying. But, I have a bit of a NIMBY attitude. Well, actually, I want it in my back yard, and my front yard, and any place I might be going. I just don't want to be around when it is sprayed. This is because their are a number of mixed reports about the safety of the chemical being sprayed. I was most intrigued by this article on D Magazine. It compared the risks of Duet to other widely used chemicals and notes that we didn't recognize the dangers of and left me with a better safe than sorry feeling.

I am so fortunate that my family lives in nearby suburbs and would all be willing to let the dog and I spend a night or two. So, both nights aerial spraying has occurred over the house we have packed up and gone to stay with my mom.

Was leaving necessary? Probably not says this article also in D Magazine online. But I'm not willing to risk my babies on a probably.


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