The Zika Virus and How It Relates to Texas Right Now
It seems like every few years there’s a new illness. Last year - Ebola, before that - H1N1, and now we are facing Zika, entering the U.S. from Latin America. Given the Lone Star State’s location on the southern border of the U.S., there has been concern about it crossing into Texas.
Unlike Ebola or Swine Flu, the symptoms of Zika are relatively mild. Many adults who contract the virus will show no symptoms at all. Zika symptoms include joint pain, fever, red eyes and a rash, similar to the flu.
The people most affected by Zika are unborn children who can be born with birth defects that be catastrophic.
There have been two Zika related deaths in the U.S. In June, an elderly man in Utah died after contracting a travel-related case. Just recently, a Zika-infected baby born in the Houston area died shortly after birth. The infant contracted the virus from his or her mother who had been in Latin America during her pregnancy. As of Aug. 9, Texas has had 99 reported cases of the virus, all of which were related to travel to an infected region outside the country.
According to CNN, the CDC issued a travel warning last week to pregnant women and their partners, advising them not to travel to Miami. As many as 11 home-grown Zika cases have now been reported in Miami.
The mosquitos that carry and transmit Zika are known to live in Texas. This means that eventually, Zika might be mosquito-borne here. Currently, however, it is not.
“Zika is far more contained than people realize,” Dr. Peter Hotez , Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told Fox News. “Areas of concern are cities like Brownsville, Texas, Corpus Christi, Houston, New Orleans, Tampa, Miami.”
It’s important to realize that the spread of the virus in Latin America has been exacerbated by living conditions that we do not have in the United States such as more standing, stagnate water that becomes mosquito breeding grounds. Also, the increased poverty rate with no air conditioning & sleeping with open windows, which allow more mosquitos entry.
There are no vaccines in existence to prevent the spread of the virus. So the CDC cautions pregnant women and their partners not to travel to Latin America (and now Miami).