March of Dimes warns pregnant women of Zika risks

HOUSTON – March of Dimes Senior Development Manager, Toni Walton knows firsthand how her organization saves lives.

As a premature twin herself, her mom paid medical bills with help from March of Dimes.

"The March of Dimes and so many other resources were available to her to make sure she had what she needed," Walton said.

Now expecting her third child, she's concerned one of the biggest threats to her baby's survival is Zika.

Dr. James Nodler, with Houston IVF, said he tells all of his patients: pregnant or trying to get pregnant to be extremely vigilant staying in air conditioned areas and using mosquito repellent.

"Even mosquito repellent with Deet, which we normally think of as being a strong and potentially harmful thing is much, much, much safer than potential exposure to Zika virus," Dr. Nodler said.

Zika is known to cause death and birth defects such as microcephaly.

Government health officials caution pregnant women and partners (who can sexually transmit the virus) against traveling to areas where Zika is present, including Brownsville, Texas. The state's first mosquito-born cases of the virus were identified in December in Brownsville.

"It's at our doorstep, it's much closer. We've had several confirmed cases of Zika virus in Brownsville, Texas," Dr. Nodler said, "Now with the rain we've had recently... there's a really high chance that Zika virus could come to Houston, Texas."

Toni knows the warning is important for her and everyone around her while waiting for baby girl to arrive.

"We really look at making sure we have bug repellent on, making sure if it's raining that we don't go outside a whole lot but it's very scary because at the end of the day, at the end of the nine months, all I want is to have a healthy baby," Walton said.