Texas Children’s partners with H-E-B, Cutter® to educate community against Zika

81016ZikaBaginside640Texas Children’s Hospital recently teamed up with H-E-B and Cutter® Insect Repellents to launch a community-based initiative to help Houstonians prepare for and prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

As part of this collaborative initiative, all three community partners will distribute 50,000 bags with free educational brochures in both English and Spanish, duct tape and insect repellent to those in targeted areas who may be at an increased risk of contracting and spreading the Zika virus.

The free bags will be distributed to patients of Texas Children’s Pediatrics Community Cares practices in Gulfgate, Corinthian Pointe, Cullen, Gulfton, Ripley House and Kingsland. The bags will also be available to Texas Children’s Health Plan patients at the Centers for Children and Women in Greenspoint and Southwest Houston.

Members of the community who are not patients of these locations can also pick up a free bag while supplies last at any of the following HEB locations:

  • H-E-B Gulfgate at 3111 Woodridge
  • H-E-B at 10251 Kempwood
  • H-E-B at 10100 Beechnut

“We are excited to work with H-E-B and Cutter Insect Repellents to help meet a critical need for so many members of our community,” says Dr. Mark W. Kline, physician-in-chief at Texas Children’s and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. “We believe it is only a matter of time before the Zika virus is prevalent in our community. Helping to educate and provide the tools needed to protect those families most at risk of contracting and spreading the disease is something we feel strongly must be done.”

Zika is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitos. Once infected, a person can spread the virus by being bitten by an Aedes mosquito that then bites another individual or through sexual contact. Pregnant women can transmit Zika to their unborn child as well. In recent months, the virus has raised 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.

Although most children and adults infected with Zika will only have mild illness – usually accompanied with symptoms of rash, fever, pink eye and joint pain that typically clear up in less than a week – a small number may suffer complications involving the brain and nervous system such as temporary or permanent paralysis. Deaths from Zika are rare.

As of July 2016, no cases of Zika have been transmitted locally by a mosquito bite but the virus has been diagnosed in travelers returning to Texas from other countries. Aedes mosquitoes are common in Texas and across the Gulf Coast, so Zika cases among returning travelers have the potential to result in the local spread of the virus.

To reduce the risk of becoming infected with Zika, there are three simple steps families can take:

  • Repel: Apply a DEET-containing insect repellent when outdoors. DEET is the most effective form of insect repellent and is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as children older than 2 months of age. Follow instructions on the product and do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes or mouth, or onto a cut or irritated skin. Insect repellent may need to be reapplied. If using sunscreen, apply that first and insect repellent second.
  • Repair: If possible, use air conditioning and close windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home. Repair or replace damaged screens on windows or doors. Inspect screens throughout the house. Simple duct tape can be used to repair any holes in screens.
  • Remove: Inspect the area around the home and eliminate places mosquitoes can use to lay eggs. Mosquitoes need standing water to reproduce, so empty, turn over, cover or throw out anything that can hold standing water, including old tires, buckets, planters, plastic pools, birdbaths, flower pots, trash cans, cups, toys, etc.

Click here to view educational flyer about Zika. For more information on Zika, click here.

Recent articles related to Zika:
New Zika clinic opens at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women
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