Dallas County health officials confirmed its first sexually transmitted Zika virus case on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) released a statement that lab results returned to them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came back positive for a patient who was infected with the virus after having sexual contact with an individual sick with Zika virus disease. The person ill with Zika virus returned from a country where the virus exists.
“Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections.”
The most common and relatively mild symptoms of the disease are fever, rash, joint pain and red eye. They last several days to a week. DCHHS advises individuals with these symptoms to visit their doctor if they have visited an area where Zika virus is present or had sexual contact with a person who traveled to an area where the virus is present. There is no specific medication available to treat Zika virus and, as Breitbart News reported, there is no vaccine. The best way to prevent Zika virus is to avoid mosquito bites and to avoid sexual contact with a person who has the illness.
“Education and awareness is crucial in preventing Zika virus,” said Dr. Christopher Perkins, DCHHS medical director/health authority. “Patients are highly encouraged to follow prevention recommendations to avoid transmitting and spreading Zika virus.”
The DCHHS notes that sexual partners can protect each other by using condoms to prevent spreading sexually-transmitted infections.
Dallas County health officials also advise there are currently no reports of Zika virus locally-transmitted by mosquitoes in Dallas County, although the DCHHS cautions these travel-related cases can make local spread by mosquitoes possible. DCHHS advises recent travelers with Zika virus symptoms and individuals diagnosed with Zika virus to protect themselves from further mosquito bites.
Medical experts warn the virus has “explosive” pandemic potential. On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus and its suspected link to birth defects a “global health emergency.” Experts also suspect a connection between Zika virus and serious birth defects. During Brazil’s 2015 Zika virus outbreak, incidences of microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with small heads and abnormally deformed brains, increased.
Breitbart Texas reported the CDC advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to the 24 countries seeing high rates of the virus in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare paralysis disease, also increased during the 2014 French Polynesia Zika virus outbreak. Wednesday, the CDC suggested that Zika may lead to hearing and vision problems
Previously, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) confirmed six travel-related cases of Zika virus statewide but have been bracing for more cases to surface.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.