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Legacy Begins Screening Male Patients at Risk for Zika

HOUSTON – Legacy Community Health, one of the nation’s largest community health centers, announced today it is expanding the screening process for Zika to now include males age 12 and up since the virus is transmitted sexually. Previously, the health center’s screening process only included pregnant women.

“We are now including male patients in our screening process to reduce the chances of sexual transmission of Zika,” said Dr. Ann Barnes, Legacy’s chief medical officer. “The rationale for the change in protocols is about prevention – for men to abstain from sex or use condoms with a pregnant partner if they are at risk for the virus because they traveled or have symptoms. But it’s important to remember that pregnant women remain the high-risk group for Zika, which causes severe birth defects.”

The new screening process involves asking adolescent and adult male patients if they have traveled to Zika- affected countries in the last three months. If the answer is no, the screening stops. If the answer is yes, the medical provider will follow up asking if the patient is currently experiencing or has experienced symptoms.

Legacy’s decision to modify screening protocols is based on Centers for Disease Control guidance, which “recommends Zika virus testing for people who may have been exposed to Zika through sex and who have Zika symptoms.”

Anyone infected with the virus may have flu-like symptoms that pass through the system in about seven days. But most people who contract the virus don’t have symptoms.

There are now nearly 100 confirmed cases of Zika in Texas, all travel-related.

Legacy Community Health, a not-for-profit Federally Qualified Health Center, provides adult primary care, pediatrics, OB/GYN and maternity, HIV/AIDS care, dental, vision and behavioral health to more than 100,000 patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Legacy is a United Way of Greater Houston agency.


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