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December 4, 2016: Zika Surfaces in Texas, Likely To Be First Local Transmission

“Texas health authorities said Monday that a Brownsville woman is infected with Zika, a case that could make the south Texas city the second place in the continental United States where the mosquito-borne virus is spreading locally.

“Laboratory testing confirmed that the 43-year-old patient, who is not pregnant, had been infected. State and local health authorities said she reported no recent travel to any location with ongoing Zika transmission and no other risk factors. The lab tests found genetic material from the virus in the woman’s urine, but a blood test was negative, indicating that a mosquito can no longer spread the virus after biting her.

“There are no other cases of suspected local transmission at this time, but health officials continue to conduct disease surveillance activities as part of the state’s ongoing response.

“’We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas,’ said John Hellerstedt, the state health commissioner. ‘We still don’t believe the virus will become widespread in Texas, but there could be more cases, so people need to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially in parts of the state that stay relatively warm in the fall and winter.’

“The woman’s case is not that surprising given Brownsville’s location in the Rio Grande Valley, directly across the border from Mexico, which has ongoing local transmission of Zika in multiple communities.

“The valley is considered to be at higher risk because of previous outbreaks of dengue, a similar virus spread by the same type of mosquito. Texas authorities have been closely monitoring people for signs of infection as well as checking for populations of the aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is most commonly found in south Texas and is the primary carrier of Zika.

“Cameron County and state health officials will begin conducting door-to-door Zika screenings Monday evening in a 20-block area in southwestern Brownsville around the area where the woman lives. They will be asking residents to reduce potential mosquito breeding areas on their properties. Authorities also plan to collect voluntary urine samples to determine whether other infections are present.

“For the moment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not issuing a specific advisory warning pregnant women against travel to the area. When Florida confirmed the first local spread of the disease in the continental United States this summer, the CDC issued a travel alert for pregnant women to avoid the Miami area.”

Source: The Washington Post

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