Texas re­ports first case of Zika spread by lo­cal mos­qui­toes

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Texas health of­fi­cials have re­ported the state’s first case of Zika likely spread by lo­cal mos­qui­toes, mak­ing Texas the se­cond state within the con­ti­nen­tal United States to re­port lo­cal trans­mis­sion of the virus that has been linked to birth de­fects. The case in­volved a woman liv­ing in Cameron County near the Mex­ico bor­der who is not preg­nant, the Texas De­part­ment of State Health Ser­vices said. Preg­nancy is the big­gest con­cern with Zika be­cause the virus can cause se­vere, life-long birth de­fects, in­clud­ing mi­cro­cephaly, in which a child is born with an ab­nor­mally small head, a sign its brain has stopped grow­ing nor­mally.

Texas said it cur­rently has no other sus­pected cases of lo­cal Zika trans­mis­sion, but of­fi­cials there plan to step up ef­forts to watch for the virus. The US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion said it was co­or­di­nat­ing with state and lo­cal of­fi­cials to in­crease sur­veil­lance ef­forts and “vec­tor con­trol ac­tiv­i­ties” such as spray­ing for adult mos­qui­toes and ap­ply­ing lar­vi­cide to kill emerg­ing mos­qui­toes. Texas is one of sev­eral US states where Aedes ae­gypti mos­qui­toes, which carry Zika, are present.

Florida’s Mi­ami Dade County has been bat­tling Zika within lo­cal mos­quito pop­u­la­tions since mid-sum­mer. As of to­day, the state has had 238 cases of lo­cally trans­mit­ted Zika. “We knew it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore we saw a Zika case spread by a mos­quito in Texas,” Dr. John Heller­st­edt, Texas De­part­ment of State Health Ser­vices com­mis­sioner, said in a state­ment. “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.”

Dr Amesh Adalja, an in­fec­tious dis­eases ex­pert at the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh Med­i­cal Cen­ter, said lo­cal trans­mis­sion in Texas was “to­tally ex­pected.” Both dengue and chikun­gunya, two closely re­lated viruses, have al­ready spread lo­cally in Texas, and the state “is a well-es­tab­lished home” of Aedes mos­qui­toes. “What this case un­der­scores is the risk of lo­cal trans­mis­sion in any area in which Aedes mos­qui­toes are present and the ur­gent need to con­tinue ag­gres­sive vec­tor con­trol mea­sures to min­i­mize the im­pact of such lo­cal in­tro­duc­tions,” he said. Of­fi­cials in Cameron County and the City of Brownsville have as­sessed the woman’s home and have be­gun trap­ping and test­ing mos­qui­toes to un­der­stand how wide­spread the virus is in lo­cal mos­quito pop­u­la­tions.

The city re­cently sprayed for mos­qui­toes in the area, and will con­tinue to take ac­tion to re­duce the mos­quito pop­u­la­tion, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials said. “Even though it is late in the mos­quito sea­son, mos­qui­toes can spread Zika in some ar­eas of the coun­try,” CDC Di­rec­tor Tom Frieden said in a state­ment. “Texas is do­ing the right thing by in­creas­ing lo­cal sur­veil­lance and trap­ping and test­ing mos­qui­toes in the Brownsville area.” There is no vac­cine or treat­ment for Zika, which causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An es­ti­mated 80 per­cent of peo­ple in­fected have no symp­toms, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for in­di­vid­u­als to know whether they have been in­fected.

The con­nec­tion be­tween Zika and mi­cro­cephaly first came to light last year in Brazil, which has since con­firmed more than 2,000 cases of the birth de­fect. In adults, Zika in­fec­tions have also been linked to a rare neu­ro­log­i­cal syn­drome known as Guil­lain-Barre, as well as other neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders. —Reuters

SEKIKAWA, Ja­pan : Wear­ing anti-virus suits, sol­diers of the Ground Self De­fense Force head for chicken farm in Sekikawa, Ni­igata pre­fec­ture, yes­ter­day.—AFP

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