Located on the third floor of the Pavilion for Women in the Baylor Ob/Gyn clinic, the Zika clinic focuses on women who have traveled to Zika-affected countries, have shown symptoms of the Zika virus or have partners who have traveled to Zika-affected countries and/or have shown symptoms of the Zika virus.
Zika is transmitted primarily through mosquito bites. In recent months, the virus has heightened concern among pregnant women since the virus may increase the risk of microcephaly, a rare neurological birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.
“It’s very important that we have a Zika clinic here at the Pavilion for Women,” said Dr. Kjersti Aagaard, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine physician and vice chair for Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine. “In an emerging disease, where new evidence arises daily, having a dedicated group of providers who can keep up with large amounts of crucial information, understand what testing to perform, and discern clinically important information and how to readily apply it are critically important.”
In addition to blood, urine and amniotic fluid tests and counseling, the clinic offers a targeted diagnostic ultrasound that can be performed as early as 15 weeks into pregnancy to determine if there are any concerning developmental signs for Zika infection in a fetus. Physicians and staff at the clinic are thoroughly prepared to safely and confidently treat any patient who exhibits symptoms of the Zika virus.
The Zika clinic is a direct outcome of a recently created task force that convened earlier this year. Under the guidance of Texas Children’s Ob/Gyn-in-Chief Dr. Michael Belfort and Maternal Fetal Medicine Division Director Dr. Gary Dildy, a task force of physicians and researchers from Baylor and Texas Children’s have developed management and research strategies based on important screening criteria outlined by the Centers for Disease Control for pregnant women who may have been exposed to the Zika virus. This task force has been led by Aagaard alongside Drs. Carey Eppes and Martha Rac.
The Zika clinic sees patients on Friday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. The clinic is staffed by one registered nurse, one medical assistant and the physician team includes Drs. Eppes, Aagaard, Rac and Magda Sanz Cortes.
The clinic will initially see patients who are internally referred by either Baylor Ob/Gyn, Partners in Ob/Gyn Care or The Women’s Specialists providers. Patient referrals to the Zika clinic from outside physicians will be accepted and expanded this summer once internal patient volume demands are addressed.
Recent Connect articles related to Zika:
Senator Cornyn visits Texas Children’s to attend roundtable on Zika virus
Zika virus cases surface in Texas, travelers to epidemic regions most at risk