Pregnant obstetrician faces Zika firsthand

florida miami zika mom elizabeth cohen pkg_00015315
florida miami zika mom elizabeth cohen pkg_00015315


    Pregnant mom takes precautions against Zika virus


Pregnant mom takes precautions against Zika virus 02:07

Story highlights

  • CDC says pregnant women and their sexual partners shouldn't travel to two sections of Miami-Dade County
  • Pregnant Florida doctor stays inside, uses bug spray and wears clothes that cover her skin

(CNN)On a sunny Saturday morning, Dr. Karla Maguire helps her mother-in-law get her son's stroller out of their house in Surfside, Florida, and then goes back inside while Rafael and his grandmother walk to the beach alone.

It isn't that Maguire doesn't like the beach. She loves it; it's one of the reasons she and her husband, Rafael Zevallos, moved to Miami from New York five years ago.
    But Maguire is pregnant, and Zika is spreading in South Florida.
    "It's sad," she said. "I haven't been taking my son to the park either, and those were two of my favorite activities to do with him before Zika."
    Maguire, who's due with her second son in February, says staying indoors is worth it to avoid mosquito bites and protect her unborn child against birth defects due to Zika.
    And she should know because she's not just pregnant: She's a pregnant obstetrician.
    "All day, I'm taking care of patients who are worried about Zika," she said. "So for me this is professional and personal."
    Maguire, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami, does leave the house to go to work, but only slathered in bug spray and wearing long sleeves and pants, even in the Miami heat.
    "I never feel completely relaxed when I'm outside," she said, "I'm always checking my pants -- are my ankles completely covered?"
    She said it's tough to stay inside for hours on end, reading, watching TV and doing chores, but she intends to do it until she gives birth.
    While it's hard personally to be a pregnant women during the age of Zika, she said it has helped her help her patients.
    She laughs when she remembers how she texted her husband to buy some mosquito repellant, and -- perhaps a bit nervous himself about Zika -- he came home with seven bottles of it.
    She keeps four bottles on a shelf near the front door, and three in various bags she carries.
    So when her patients ask her if bug spray is safe during pregnancy, she tells them she doesn't leave home without it.
    "They find that reassuring," she said.
    Maguire and other South Florida doctors say they expect questions about Zika to reach a fever pitch when their offices open Monday morning, because Friday afternoon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced pregnant women and their sexual partners shouldn't travel to two sections of Miami-Dade County, and should consider postponing nonessential travel to all parts of the county.
    "I think we're going to have quite a number of patients ask, 'Wait a minute -- I live here. What am I supposed to do? Move away?'" said Dr. Elizabeth Etkin-Kramer, who practices gynecology in Miami Beach.
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    Dr. Aaron Elkin, an obstetrician in Hollywood, Florida, said he already has one patient who's thinking about moving to New York, even though he's told her she should be safe in Florida if she takes precautions, such as wearing repellant and covering up when she's outside.
    "I think she won't be the only one," he said. "I think in the next couple of weeks we'll see people packing up and moving away -- I have no doubt."
    Maguire said her patients are concerned, but not panicked.
    Many of them are following her strategy of staying indoors as much as possible.
    "Being inside and kind of entertaining myself is sad, but I'll get through it," she said.