Zika Virus Alert: Texas Become Second State To Confirm Locally Transmitted Zika Infection
In a report published by Syracuse, Texas state health officials revealed that lab tests have confirmed that a woman in Brownsville was infected with the Zika virus. Officials also noted that the infected woman had not traveled to Mexico or any other region with an ongoing Zika outbreak recently. This confirms that the infection has been locally transmitted.
The virus was detected in her urine and not in her blood, which indicated that the virus can no longer be spread from her. Thankfully, the woman was not pregnant as infection during pregnancy can lead to serious brain defects in fetuses
"We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas," Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner, said in a statement (via Reuters). "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."
Prior to this, Florida was the only state in the US to report a locally transmitted infection of the Zika virus. Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. While the virus causes little harm to adults, it increases the chances of microcephaly or a small brain and head in children.
Though 257 confirmed cases of Zika have been confirmed in Texas, all of them have been associated with travel or contact with someone who had traveled. The first case was reported in January, this year. Earlier in August this year, a baby in Texas was born, and later died, from complications caused by microencephaly. The ailment was caused due to a Zika infection.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4,444 cases of Zika have been reported to CDC in the continental United States and Hawaii and 5 cases of Zika-related birth defects and six infant deaths nationally have been reported.
"Even though it is late in the mosquito season, mosquitoes can spread Zika in some areas of the country," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Texas is doing the right thing by increasing local surveillance and trapping and testing mosquitoes in the Brownsville area."
Currently, there is no cure for a Zika virus infection. However, infected people are being treated by hydration, rest and pain medication to alleviate the pain.