A few months ago it was reported that Florida had a number of local cases of the Zika virus. Now there is a report of a probable case of local transmission of the Zika virus in Texas. State officials in Texas suggest that the infection may have been transmitted from person to person by mosquitoes.
The female patient, who is not pregnant and who has acquired the Zika virus, lives in Brownsville along the Gulf coast near the Mexican border. A rare coincidence is that the first case of chikungunya virus, which is also spread by mosquitoes, was also confirmed in Brownsville early this year.
Even though this is the first reported case of local transmission of the Zika virus in Texas, health officials believe that there may be many more. The problem is that many people who do acquire the Zika virus only have mild symptoms and rarely seek medical attention. Thus, officials have started to survey the area around the infected female’s home and are asking neighbors for urine samples to check for the Zika virus. In addition, county officials have started to lay mosquito traps to check for the presence of the virus.
Working in close collaboration with experts from the Centers for Disease Control, state officials now have initiated mosquito surveillance and are offering education to the public on how to prevent mosquito bites.
So far the CDC has not issued a travel alert warning for travellers going to the Gulf Coast because there has only been one single case confirmed. However, the CDC has stated that if more cases appear in the next coming weeks, they may consider issuing a travel warning. The reason why the Zika virus is feared is because the infection can cause deformation of the infant’s brain in pregnant women. While the virus is primarily acquired from mosquitoes, there have been several cases where the virus was transferred after sexual activity.
To date there have been nearly 4,444 confirmed cases of Zika infection in the US, of which 1,114 have occurred in pregnant women. The majority of these individuals were infected while traveling to Central and South America.
The sole patient infected in Texas denied any recent international travel and stated that she has not had sex with people who have previously visited an area where Zika virus is endemic. So far doctors in Brownsville have not reported any patients with symptoms of the Zika virus.