Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard aren’t allowing the Zika virus to chase them out of El Salvador. TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting stars are continuing their missionary work in Central America, despite the ongoing outbreak of the mosquito-borne epidemic, which is known to cause severe birth defects in the babies of infected mothers. The biggest issue for Duggar and Dillard: Because of their religion, they don’t believe in birth control — and government officials in El Salvador issued a warning that residents should avoid getting pregnant until 2018.
While some reports suggested the mom and dad of son Israel, 10 months, had headed back to Arkansas, Dillard updated his blog from Central America on February 11. “Jill’s parents surprised us recently with an impromptu visit for a few days,” he wrote. “It was great to have them with us and get to show the work the Lord is doing here.”
Are Duggar, 24, and Dillard, 26, being reckless? L.A.-based obstetrician-gynecologist Michael S. Broder doesn’t think so — just as long as the couple take all the usual mosquito precautions such as wearing long sleeves and long pants. “It’s crucial that they remove standing water from around the outside of the house,” the author of The Panic-Free Pregnancy tells Us Weekly. “And they should sleep with an insect net around their bed at night.” Both should also use repellent containing DEET or picaridin, which are considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
New York City internist Alexandra Sowa warns that Dillard should be just as diligent about protecting himself against mosquitos as it appears the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted. Though there are blood tests to screen for Zika, the clinical instructor in medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College explains, “In the absence of symptoms or pregnancy, routine blood screening for Zika is not recommended.”
What do you think of Jill and Derick’s decision to remain in El Salvador?