Texans work to prevent spread of Zika virus

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In the wake of last week's flooding, Texans are working to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne Zika virus. (KTRK)

Rob and Rachel Goyen, two local trail runners, spend a lot of time outdoors.

They've also been trying to conceive a child for three years. The Zika virus is something they stay very informed about, with the CDC warning that the virus may cause birth defects in pregnant women.

"If it was here and we knew it was here and Rachel was trying to conceive, I would be like, 'Hey we'll stay indoors while we're having a child and do all we can to make sure it's safe,'" Rob said.

They canceled a trip to Costa Rica, one of the affected regions, so they don't take any chances. "We were getting excited about the trip until we spoke to the doctors," Rachel said.

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"At least for us, the option for us to have a child outweigh the option to go on vacation," Rob added.

Last week's heavy rains created a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and May is the start of the height of mosquito season.

The city and county will be closely monitoring the situation. Porfirio Villarreal, with the Houston Health Department, said, "Usually we don't see West Nile until July, so it's a good time to get ready and elevate your guard. We have mosquitoes coming from other parts -- South America, Latin America and the Caribbean."

All of the Zika cases reported by residents in Houston and Harris County were contracted during foreign travel. Health officials expect eventual migration, and some Zika cases could be contracted here.

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Exactly when, they don't know. "Mosquitoes don't have a wide array of territory, so if a neighborhood acts and gets rid of that standing water, they will really reduce the mosquito population," Villarreal adds.

While the city has expanded its lab and can test a person suspected of having Zika with a blood test, there is still no vaccine. Mosquito spraying programs also can not specifically target Zika.

For the Goyens, they will keep doing what they can to protect themselves and hope to expand their family very soon.

"While we would welcome any special needs child, we're not going to risk environmental factors that may be in our control to protect our hopefully future child," Rachel said.
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healthzika virusmosquitobugsHouston
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