Health officials find probable local Zika infection

The Texas Department of State Health Services and Hidalgo County Health and Human Services have determined a Hidalgo County resident who previously had a Zika infection was most likely infected in Texas. Because the individual has not recently traveled outside the area or had any other risk factors, the infection was probably transmitted by a mosquito bite in South Texas sometime in the last few months. Laboratory testing shows the individual is no longer at risk of spreading the virus to mosquitoes.
Thousands of Zika tests have been done since a DSHS recommendation in April expanded testing of pregnant women and people with Zika symptoms in six South Texas counties. The additional testing led to the identification of this infection, the first this year that appears to have been transmitted by a mosquito in Texas. There is no evidence of ongoing Zika transmission in the state at this time, but public health officials are continuing to conduct human and mosquito surveillance to find any future Zika infections as early as possible.
Hidalgo County Health and Human Services has alerted health care providers, reminding them of the testing recommendations, and DSHS and the county are asking everyone in the area to be aware of the most common Zika symptoms: rash, fever, joint pain and eye redness. People should contact their provider about testing if they experience a rash plus one of the other symptoms.
Local officials have also responded by increasing mosquito control and surveillance activities and going door-to-door to share information about Zika and ensure pregnant women and people with symptoms have had the appropriate testing.
People throughout the Rio Grande Valley and Texas should continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites by
• Using EPA-approved insect repellent every time they go outside
• Using air condition or window and door screens that are in good repair to keep mosquitoes out.
• Limiting outdoor activities during peak mosquito times.
• Covering exposed skin with long pants and long-sleeved shirts whenever possible.
• Removing standing water in and around homes, including in trash cans, toys, tires, flower pots and any other containers so mosquitoes can’t lay their eggs.
• Using a larvicide in water that can’t be drained to keep mosquitoes from developing into biting adults.
Texas previously had six locally-transmitted cases of Zika in Brownsville in November and December 2016. More information on Zika for the public and health care providers is available at TexasZika.org.