The Texas Department of State Health Services and Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services last week, identified an additional Brownsville resident with a locally-acquired case of Zika. The newest case is the sixth local mosquito-transmitted case in Cameron Co. and Texas, but is not believed to be connected to the other cases.
Public health workers have responded to the case by providing testing to members of the patient’s household and going door-to-door in the area around the patient’s home. They are working to identify and offer testing to anyone with possible Zika symptoms and to all pregnant women in the area, who are with or without symptoms. Officials in Cameron County have also been educating neighbors about Zika and conducting environmental assessments to help reduce mosquito habitats in the area.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its testing guidance recently to recommend testing all pregnant women living in Brownsville or who have travelled to Brownsville on or after Oct. 29. DSHS continues to urge pregnant women and their health care providers to follow that guidance and the recommendation to test pregnant women who have traveled to places where Zika is being spread, including anywhere in Mexico.
Recent cold temperatures combined with mosquito control efforts have reduced the mosquito population in the area, but warmer weather is forecast for at least the next week, so people should continue avoiding mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants. They should also dump out containers that hold standing water in and around their homes to deny mosquitoes a place to lay their eggs.
Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, though it can also spread by sexual contact. The four most common symptoms are fever, itchy rash, joint pain and eye redness. While symptoms are usually minor, Zika can also cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, and other poor birth outcomes in some women infected during pregnancy. DSHS recommends pregnant women follow CDC advice to avoid traveling to locations with sustained, local Zika transmission, including all areas of Mexico. Pregnant women should also use condoms or avoid sexual contact with partners who have traveled to those areas. Travelers and the general public can find more information at TexasZika.org.