First Reported Incidence of Zika Virus Among Southern Border States
According to a recent article published in Reuters on November 29, Texas has reported the first incidences of mosquito-borne Zika virus inside the United States. This makes Texas the second state, after Florida, to report such cases.
Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner, commented “We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas.”
Dr. Hellerstedt went on to say, “We still don’t believe the virus will become widespread in Texas, but there could be more cases, so people need to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially in parts of the state that stay relatively warm in the fall and winter.”
CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a related statement, “Even though it is late in the mosquito season, mosquitoes can spread Zika in some areas of the country, Texas is doing the right thing by increasing local surveillance and trapping and testing mosquitoes in the Brownsville area.”
Many health officials and pest control professionals agree that it was only a matter of time until cases of Zika virus began to be reported in southern border states like Texas, California, and Arizona. However, with a cold winter fast approaching in most parts of the country, it’s unlikely that the virus will spread northward with the same rapidity it exhibited in South America.
Common symptoms associated with Zika virus include mild headaches, topical rashes, fever, malaise, conjunctivitis, and joint pains. Typically, symptoms of the virus begin fading within two to three days. The illness has traditionally been viewed as fairly mild and actually only manifests in one out of five bitten hosts.
However, the most at-risk demographic from Zika virus has proven to be pregnant women. Experts have recently concluded that the disease can lead to severe birth defects, the most significant of which is abnormal brain development in fetuses by mother-to-child transition, which can potentially result in a miscarriage or microcephaly.
Due to the unprecedented rate of infection in new geographical areas, the CDC has issued travel guidelines for pregnant women, urging them to consider postponing travel to these areas. In areas where the spread of Zika virus is more pronounced, such as in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Jamaica, officials have advised women to avoid getting pregnant until more information about the risks is discovered.
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