The first case of locally transmitted Zika virus in Texas has been reported in the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas Department of State Health Services reports.
“We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner.
The patient is a Cameron County resident who is not pregnant and who was confirmed last week by lab test to have been infected. She reported no recent travel to Mexico or anywhere else with ongoing Zika virus transmission and no other risk factors.
Laboratory testing found genetic material from the Zika virus in the patient’s urine, but a blood test was negative, indicating that the virus can no longer be spread from her by a mosquito.
Through last week, Texas has had 257 confirmed cases of Zika virus disease. Until now, all cases in the state had been associated with travel, including two infants born to women who had traveled during their pregnancy and two people who had sexual contact with infected travelers.
There are no other cases of suspected local transmission at this time, but health officials continue to conduct disease surveillance activities as part of the state's ongoing Zika response.
Cameron County, DSHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working together to investigate and respond to the case. Further investigation will be necessary to attempt to pinpoint how and where the infection occurred, and health officials are also responding in a number of other ways.
DSHS has activated the State Medical Operations Center to support the response and is providing expertise, personnel and equipment for activities from disease investigation to mosquito surveillance to public education.
Cameron County and the City of Brownsville, with help from DSHS, have conducted an environmental assessment at the patient’s home and have been trapping and testing mosquitoes to learn more about activity in the area.
The samples collected will be tested at the DSHS laboratory in Austin.
Brownsville has recently sprayed for mosquitoes in the area and will continue to take action to reduce the mosquito population.
Health workers from Cameron County and DSHS will be going door to door in the area around where the case lived beginning this evening to educate the public about Zika, help people reduce potential mosquito breeding habitat on their property, and collect voluntary urine samples to determine whether other infections are present.
Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, though sexual transmission can occur.
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.