A 'Likely' First in Texas: Zika Spread by Local Mosquito

Lone Star State would join Florida in having local transmission cases
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2016 7:03 AM CST
A 'Likely' First in Texas: Zika Spread by Local Mosquito
In this Jan. 27, 2016, file photo, an Aedes aegypti mosquito known to carry the Zika virus is photographed through a microscope at the Fiocruz institute in Recife, Brazil.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

Texas health officials knew it was "only a matter of time," and that time has arrived, they now say: The state has logged its first case of Zika likely spread by a local mosquito, the Guardian reports. This news puts Texas alongside Florida as the only other state in which this has occurred—all of the other 257 reported Zika cases in Texas had been tied to either sexual transmission or travel. CNN and the Washington Post report the infected patient, confirmed via a lab test, is a non-pregnant 43-year-old female from the border town of Brownsville (various communities in Mexico have been battling local transmission) who hadn't recently gone to a known Zika region or otherwise been exposed. Per a state health department press release, the virus was detected in her urine but not her blood, meaning a mosquito can't transmit the disease from her. The CDC says it's working with health officials to up surveillance and carry out insecticide measures in the area, per Reuters.

Although the spread of mosquito-carried disease is somewhat hampered in Texas by the common use of AC and window screens, the city of Brownsville is a hot spot for virus-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, reports the New York Times. And some say the problem overall could be understated. "There's probably a lot of transmission going on in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida that we're not aware of because we're not really doing active surveillance," Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. Peter Hotez tells the Guardian. Meanwhile, Dr. John Hellerstedt, the state's health commissioner, says in the release that officials don't think "the virus will become widespread in Texas," but he warns people should still protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially in the milder parts of the state where mosquitoes remain active during colder-weather months. (Read more Zika virus stories.)

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