Travel-related Zika cases reported in Texas border cities

Zika on the border

BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- A Texas border city has reported its first travel-related Zika infection.

Officials in Cameron County, the southernmost county in Texas, told KENS 5 that they had to reclassify an infection case as Zika after state health officials redefined what Zika is.

"It's gonna happen in Texas, it's gonna happen wherever these mosquitoes are," said Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo.

A 57-year-old Brownsville woman who returned from Mexico in December had symptoms of the virus. But back then, little was known about Zika. Her doctor thought that she'd contracted dengue. Now, with the introduction of new state health guidelines, her case has been reclassified.

"Looking back with the new rules, it turns out that we had a case that you would say is probable Zika, which for all intents and purposes we would treat as Zika and we would respond to this case as a Zika case," Dr. Castillo said.

The recent change has prompted eight other Texas counties to revisit previously diagnosed cases and revise them as well.

Even though the cases are travel-related, officials say that fighting Zika on the border is important because the type of mosquito that can carry the virus breeds in this region.

"If a person has Zika in their blood, gets bitten by a mosquito, and then it's around other people, then that mosquito will go around and bite other people right there. It could transmit Zika to those people,” Dr. Castillo said.

For Deelilah Aldrighetti, a mother of two, she's confident that researchers will eventually find a vaccine. However, she believes local authorities need to do more to inform the public about how to protect themselves and their loved ones.

"I don't even think babies have 'Off',” she said. “So will there be someone to make something like that or is the county going to be spraying more often or what is it that they are going to do?"

Experts say that the best way to prevent Zika is to eliminate breeding grounds at home, such as standing water. Also, take measures to avoid getting bitten by wearing long clothing and spraying repellent.

Health officials along the border continue to monitor mosquitos for what they call the eventual local transmission of the virus. Currently, no mosquitos have tested positive.

(© 2016 KENS)


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