Thirty-five cases of the Zika Virus have been reported in Texas but the virus is expected to spread in the Lone Star State during mosquito season. The threat is especially likely near the Texas-Mexico border and along the Gulf Coast.
The cases that have been reported thus far have included thirty-four individuals who traveled to Zika-infected countries, including one of them who was pregnant. One of these had sex with someone who had contacted the Zika virus when they were traveling out of the country. Central America, as reported by Breitbart Texas, has been especially hard hit.
Mosquito season is upon us and members of the Texas Senate Committee held an expedited hearing and heard from the experts in the state. One of them, Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, told the Texas state senators, “We do believe that Texas will, at some point, likely experience mosquito vector transmission.” As the CBS affiliate in Dallas reported, the commissioner added, “We don’t know when and we don’t really know at what level that will occur.” He said that cases have been reported to have been transmitted in Mexico but not on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“One of the big advantages that we have over other parts of the world in terms of Zika is our ability to see it coming and prepare for it,” he was reported to have said during the hearing.
As reported by Breitbart Texas in February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott appointed an infectious disease task force to prepare for the Zika virus in the Lone Star state. He appointed thirty-one members to the Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response. Dr. John Hellerstedt serves as the director.
The state senate committee heard from “some of the best minds at the state and local levels on the Zika response,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Patrick said that Texas is examining mosquito protection measures, including ways to help eliminate mosquito habitats in homes, and using necessary testing as appropriate.
Invited testimony included experts from the following institutes:
Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner, Department of State Health Services
Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the Baylor College of Medicine National School of Tropical Medicine
Dr. Scott Lillibridge, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Texas A&M University
Dr. Carey Eppes, Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine and Director of Obstetrical Quality and Safety, Ben Taub Maternal Fetal Medicine
Dr. Umair Shah, Executive Director, Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services
Eduardo Olivarez, Chief Administrative Officer, Hidalgo County Health Department
Zachary S. Thompson, Director, Dallas County Health and Human Services
Another member of Governor Abbott’s task force, Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He was reported by CBSDFW to say he was never worried about an Ebola outbreak in the state; however, he is concerned about a Zika virus outbreak in Texas. He added that even an outbreak that involved a small percentage of the state’s population could cost the state up to $1 billion.
More information on the Zika virus is available at www.texaszika.org.