Texas Man Brings First Case of Zika From Miami to El Paso

A plane sprays pesticide over the Wynwood neighborhood in the hope of controlling and reducing the number of mosquitos, some of which may be capable of spreading the Zika virus on August 6, 2016 in Miami, Florida

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced Monday a Texas resident contracted Zika while in south Florida, bringing it back with him to El Paso.

Texas public health officials called this the state’s first Zika case related to travel within the continental United States, although it may be the  first time the virus spread domestically between states. Breitbart Texas is awaiting confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The individual, identified by the El Paso Times as a man, contracted Zika while traveling to the Miami area where 30 cases of local mosquito transmission of the virus were reported. After his return to Texas, the unidentified man became ill and sought testing. Zika was found in his blood and urine samples. Robert Resendes, the city’s public health director, confirmed the man was bitten by a Zika-infected mosquito in south Florida. He said the man is “no longer infectious” and “not a danger to anyone,” and is recovering. Resendes added El Paso is safe because there is no local mosquito transmission of Zika.

Ironically, the CDC recently warned Americans not to travel to the Miami neighborhood for fear of catching the locally transmitted mosquito-borne Zika. DSHS is classifying this case as “travel-associated.”

Previously, Texas reported 108 travel-associated cases to regions with active Zika transmission — all outside the continental United States. This included three pregnant women, two infants infected before birth, and one person who had sexual contact with a traveler. Although attributed to overseas infection, Texas reported the nation’s first sexually transmitted cases of Zika spread through straight and gay sex. This new case marks the first incidence of Zika in El Paso County, where “no other evidence” of the virus or local transmission has occurred.

State health officials urge Texans to follow simple precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites such as using EPA-approved insect repellent, wearing loose-fitting clothes, using screens on windows and doors, and removing standing water around the home to avoid attracting mosquitoes.

The majority of people who contract Zika experience short-term, mild flu-like symptoms. However, pregnant women and their unborn babies are most vulnerable because of Zika-linked birth defects like microcephaly, the condition where a newborn’s head is abnormally small because the brain developed partially. Last week, Breitbart Texas reported on the state’s first fatality of a Harris County baby girl who died from Zika-related microcephaly.

Texas Medicaid recently announced it will cover the costs of up to two cans of mosquito repellent per month through October 31 for eligible women between the ages of 10 and 45 or pregnant. To receive the free mosquito repellent, eligible women must be enrolled Medicaid, CHIP, CHIP-Perinate, Healthy Texas Women, or the Family Planning program and a doctor must prescribe the repellent.

There are no reports of local mosquitoes in Texas transmitting Zika, although the state remains on high alert for that possibility, which some experts believe is imminent.

Breitbart Texas reported:

“Texas continues to roll out its statewide preparations to forestall or lessen the severity of Zika when and if it becomes local statewide. In February, Breitbart Texas reported DSHS officials feared a ‘transmission cycle’ could happen in Texas as has now occurred in Florida especially because Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry Zika are native to Texas.”

These same mosquitoes also carry Dengue fever, common on the Texas-Mexico border, and Chikungunya, which first entered the state in 2014.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.


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