Texas health officials confirmed three new cases of the Zika virus Wednesday, one in Dallas County and two in Bexar County, bringing the total number of people in the Lone Star State infected up to 13. More test results are still pending from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) officials confirmed one new case of the Zika virus, bringing the county’s total up to three.
— Dallas County HHS (@DCHHS) February 10, 2016
In a press release, DCHHS stated the 45-year-old patient is not pregnant and is a Dallas resident who recently traveled to Honduras. “Upon returning to Dallas County, the patient was diagnosed with possible compatible symptoms that have resolved,” said local health officials. “For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, DCHHS does not provide additional identifying information.”
DCHHS conducted the preliminary test and plans to send the results to the CDC for further analysis. However, local health officials hope to hasten the wait time for Zika results by testing through a local lab. They plan to screen area pregnant women who traveled to one of the Zika-infested Latin American and Caribbean countries because of the suspected link between the virus and the neurological birth defect microcephaly, a condition where the unborn baby’s brain does not fully develop. Health department spokeswoman Erikka Neroes recently told Breitbart Texas screenings will also include “anyone who a doctor refers for Zika virus testing.”
Currently, DCHHS await four more travel-related virus test results to return from the CDC.
In Bexar County, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District confirmed two new cases of the Zika virus, raising the total number of confirmed county cases from one to three. San Antonio health officials stated all cases were travel-related. Three other possible travel-related Zika cases remain under investigation by the CDC.
— Frank Alosa (@FrankAlosa) February 10, 2016
Dr. Anil Mangla, assistant director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s communicable diseases division, said that all the three people with confirmed cases are now virus-free, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Mangla does not want Bexar County residents to panic since no native Texas mosquitoes carry the Zika virus and it only exists in travel-related cases to affected regions, Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick reported.
A concern raised by University of Texas Southwestern and Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, though, is infected people could infect the local mosquitos that bite them and “start the transmission cycle” in Texas.
All but one of the state’s Zika cases were travel-related, contracted by individuals visiting Zika infested countries. That outstanding case in Dallas County was the first sexually transmitted case of Zika in the United States acquired by contact with an infected partner who recently traveled to Venezuela.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) says most people exposed to the mosquito-borne illness experience mild symptoms that can last up to a week and include fever, rash, muscle and joint aches plus conjunctivitis.
The CDC suggested Zika may be connected to other congenital brain and vision birth defects, which Breitbart News reported. Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare paralysis disease, increased during the 2014 French Polynesia Zika virus outbreak. While Zika can spread through sexual intercourse, it is primarily transmitted to people by Aedes species of mosquitoes, which, in Texas, also carry Dengue fever and Chikungunya.
Mosquito season starts in May. State health officials recommend reducing exposure to mosquito bites by using the same techniques as during West Nile virus season such as applying EPA approved repellants containing DEET, wearing long, loose fitting and light-colored clothes when outside and permethrin-treated gear, removing all standing water in and around the home’s exterior, and limiting outdoor activities during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active.
Last week, Texas reported 10 Zika cases. Governor Greg Abbott appointed a 31 member infectious disease preparedness and response task force to address the virus. Dallas County health officials launched a Zika task force. The World Health Organization declared the virus a “global health emergency.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.