Health Topics

What is the Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is spread through the bite of certain types of mosquitoes. While it can cause fever, rash, joint pain and red or pink eyes, about 80 percent of people with Zika do not become ill or show no signs of symptoms. Zika also can be spread through blood transfusions and sexual contact.

Should I Worry?

Most of Texas has a long mosquito season and many people travel to places where Zika is active. This means you have a great chance of coming into contact with the Zika virus and potentially spreading it to your loved ones and other Texans.

The Zika virus also can be spread from mother to child, if the mother is infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy. The Zika virus has been linked to birth defects such as microcephaly, a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected and can cause development delays.

If you have any concerns or think you might have Zika, talk to your doctor.

What Can I Do to Prevent Zika?

Effective May 1, 2017, Healthy Texas Women and the Family Planning Program will add mosquito repellent as a covered benefit for eligible clients.

The programs will cover the cost of mosquito repellent for eligible women and girls ages 10-55, pregnant women of any age, and males 14 and older, as applicable.  For Healthy Texas Women clients, many pharmacies can provide you mosquito repellent without a prescription from your doctor. Contact your favorite pharmacy to make sure they are participating in this benefit. To find your pharmacy's phone number, you can use the Pharmacy Search on the Vendor Drug Program website. Clients can present their Healthy Texas Women ID card just like they would with any prescription. For Family Planning Program clients, supplies can be picked up at a participating Family Planning Program clinic.

The mosquito repellent benefit is also offered in the following Texas programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • CHIP-Perinatal
  • Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Services Program

Please check with each program for eligibility requirements, as they are not the same for all programs.

You also can take these simple steps to protect you and your loved ones from the Zika virus.

When you’re outside:

  • Apply EPA-approved insect repellent.
  • Wear pants and long-sleeve shirts that cover exposed skin.

When you’re at home:

  • Use screens or close windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Remove standing water in and around your home, including water in cans, toys, tires, plant saucers or any container that can hold water.
  • Cover trash cans or containers that can hold water.

If you’re pregnant:

  • Protect yourself from sexual transmission. Consider abstaining from sex or use condoms correctly.
  • Avoid travel to regions where the Zika virus is active.

Learn More

You can find more information about the Zika virus at:

Living a healthy lifestyle today is important for many reasons, including your possible future pregnancy. Whether a baby is just around the corner or years from now, your health today can affect you and your baby’s emotional, physical and mental well-being in the future.

Discovering your best balanced life can feel overwhelming. Here are some ways you can take control:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Stop smoking
  • Find stress relief
  • Create a healthy living environment

Setting goals for yourself can help you achieve your healthiest self and, for women, this includes setting a reproductive plan, like deciding between abstinence, birth control, and natural family planning. Understanding your options is important, and there are programs and services available to help you.

Getting Help

Visit to find Lifestyle Guides, birth planning tools and more information on taking control of your life.

Or call (512) 776-7373 for more information.

As a new mom, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your new baby. Having your baby can bring in a world of emotions – happiness, relief, exhaustion, anxiety and more – and finding balance and support for you and your baby are important to create a happy, healthy home.

Make sure to get enough sleep, eat right and exercise. And, if you’re not feeling like yourself, reach out to someone for help or support. Going to your postpartum appointments is an important part of protecting your health, and your doctor is a great resource for providing guidance and tips.

Your emotional health is also an important aspect of being a new mom. Postpartum depression affects as many as one in seven women, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Postpartum depression often appears one to three weeks after childbirth, but might start during pregnancy or up to a year after birth. The symptoms include:

  • Feelings of guilt
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble bonding with your baby

Contact your healthcare provider today if you have recently given birth and are experiencing these symptoms. It’s important to notify your doctor about your symptoms and get treatment, such as counseling, as soon as possible.

Getting Help

To learn more about resources that could help you with healthcare or financial support, call 2-1-1, or visit the below websites:

For more information about keeping you and your baby healthy and safe as well as learning more about medical conditions, visit:

Nutrition is important for a healthy lifestyle because it can help lower your risk for health conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Eating healthy doesn't have to be hard or expensive either. With a little bit of planning for the week ahead, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle for both you and your family – while staying within budget.

Getting Help

Here are helpful resources to find healthy foods and plan a nutritious diet on a limited budget:

Your mental, emotional and social well-being are important to your overall health. These factors can affect the way you think, feel and act in your daily life.

Mental health issues affect about one in five adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It covers a wide range of conditions such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse problems. Early warning signs that someone may be suffering from mental health concerns could include:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little.
  • Smoking or drinking more than usual.
  • Using illegal drugs or abusing medications such as opioids.
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships.
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others.
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school.

If you’ve experienced any of these problems or are concerned about your mental health or the mental health of a family member or friend, there are resources available to help you.

Getting Help

The first step is to find mental health resources and services in your area. There are organizations that can provide you with access to mental health testing, education, counseling, and support groups. For more information, click on one of the links below.

If you are facing a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1.

If you are thinking about suicide, please call:

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or TTY 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)
  • Red Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454
  • Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1

It can be a challenge to quit smoking. However, it’s an important step you can take to protect the health of you and your loved ones.

People who quit smoking often experience a number of health, financial and social benefits, including:

  • Lowering your risk for certain diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and infertility in women.
  • Improving your mood and reducing anxiety symptoms.
  • Saving money spent on cigarettes.
  • Increasing your chances of having healthier babies.
  • Setting a better, healthier example for your children and loved ones.

Are you ready to quit smoking? There are effective programs and services to help you achieve this goal.

Getting Help

The good news is you don’t have to quit smoking on your own. Research shows you can double your chances of quitting smoking for good by using Quit Line services.

To get started, here are some available resources:

  • The American Cancer Society’s Quit for Life Program is an easy-to-follow online program to help you quit smoking.
  • Call the toll-free Texas Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-YES-QUIT (937-7848) for free and confidential one-on-one counseling and support services.

Maintaining positive relationships with your family and significant others is an important part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. An abusive relationship will have a negative impact on your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

In some cases, it can be hard to tell if your significant other is becoming abusive. However, you can look for some of the following behaviors:

  • Telling you that you can never do anything right.
  • Keeping you or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members.
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household.
  • Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you.
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions.
  • Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons.

Abusive relationships are serious. If you think you need help, there are programs and services available.

Getting Help

The National Domestic Violence program provides a 24-hour crisis hotline that offers the following services:

  • Someone who will pick you up and take you to a safe place or home anytime — day or night.
  • Emergency medical care.
  • People who will give you support and help you work through your problems.
  • Legal help in the civil and criminal justice systems.
  • Help with keeping your children in school.
  • Job training and help getting a job.
  • Help getting other services you need.

If you need help, call the hotline any time at 1-800-799-7233.

People with a speech or hearing disability looking for help can call the following numbers:

  • 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
  • 1-206-518-9361 (video phone)

More information is also available at the following websites. Click on one of the links below.

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