Zika expert named at UT Medical Center

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After the Zika virus was recently discovered in Florida, concerns are rising here in East Tennessee. That's why there's a local "point person" for all of your questions.

Local 8 News Anchor Lauren Davis talked to that Zika expert who works at UT Medical Center.

Zika is the virus that mosquitoes or humans can spread in certain ways, that is linked to severe birth defects in babies. The doctor tells me if you have a question about Zika talk to your gynecologist. She tells Local 8 if they don't have the answers, ask her.

Dr. Fortner has been watching ultrasounds very closely due to the Zika virus. It may be a matter of time before it's in Tennessee. Dr. Kimberly Fortner says, "It's hard to know what timing will be, but hard to say it's not going to happen anymore."

So the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists appointed Dr. Fortner to be the so called Zika expert. A place to go for Zika answers since the guidelines are ever changing. Dr. Fortner says, "We'll see more questions. It hasn't been as on our minds. There's no reason to panic, but it's more relevant now."

So what do you need to know right now. Doctors are now testing pregnant women between 2 and 12 weeks from possible exposure to Zika. The latest CDC recommendations to pregnant women is not to travel to Miami. Gynocologists are advised to talk to women about Zika during every pre-natal visit. Dr. Fortner says, "Which is a lot. It sends a different message. It's not to sound alarming, but when we ask over and over it is a lot."

She says patients have been understanding. Dr. Fortner says, "Most of them have said that they hear my advice and they thank me. All of them change their plans. Which has meant honeymoon changes."

Dr. Fortner is one of 12 experts across the US named recently.