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First Case of Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus Confirmed in Texas

Update Date: Jan 12, 2016 10:32 AM EST

The very first case of Zika, a virus carried by the Aedes mosquito, has been confirmed in the United States this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.

The Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services released a statement revealing that the infected patient had traveled to Houston, Texas from Latin America where the virus has been affecting hundreds of thousands of people. The patient then developed symptoms, such as fever and rash, which pointed to the Zika virus.

The Zika virus has affected an estimated 440,000 to 1.3 million people in Brazil since it was first detected last May. Along with the spike in cases, experts have noticed an increased rate of microcephaly, which is a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head that can lead to mental retardation.

In 2015, there were 2,700 infants born with the defect. In 2014, the rate was just 150. Due to this potential link, Brazilian officials have recommended women to delay any plans of getting pregnant until they know more about the risks involved.

Some cases of Zika have also been confirmed in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Zika is typically a mild infection. However, in rare cases, it can lead to hospitalizations. Common symptoms aside from fever and rash are joint pain and conjunctivitis, which manifests as red eyes. There are no medical treatments for the virus, and infected people are recommended to rest and drink water.

Since there is no vaccine for the virus, experts have stressed the importance of utilizing prevention methods, especially in areas where the virus is more common.

"Prevention is key to reducing the risk of Zika virus infection," Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services, commented reported by CBS News. "Zika virus infections occur throughout the world. We encourage individuals traveling to areas where the virus has been identified to protect themselves against mosquito bites, and to contact their healthcare provider immediately if they develop Zika virus-like symptoms."

For more information on the Zika, visit the CDC page here.

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