Four more Zika cases, likely home­grown, found in Texas

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

DAL­LAS: Four more cases of Zika that were likely trans­mit­ted by mos­quito bites in Texas have been found in the same neigh­bor­hood where the state’s first such case was dis­cov­ered, state health of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

The Texas Depart­ment of State Health Ser­vices said the new cases were found dur­ing tests con­ducted af­ter the first home­grown in­fec­tion, an­nounced on Nov. 28, was found in a woman who lives in Brownsville, a town along the Mex­ico bor­der.

The four peo­ple who were later di­ag­nosed live close to the woman’s home and re­ported be­com­ing ill be­tween Nov. 29 and Dec. 1. Health of­fi­cials be­lieve they ac­quired the in­fec­tions in the area be­fore mos­quito con­trol ef­forts in­ten­si­fied fol­low­ing the ini­tial case, depart­ment spokesman Chris Van Deusen said.

Florida is the only other state in the US with lo­cally spread Zika. On Fri­day, of­fi­cials there said the popular tourist des­ti­na­tion of South Beach was cleared of ac­tive trans­mis­sion, though the virus re­mains a risk in Mi­ami-Dade County.

Zika is pri­mar­ily trans­mit­ted to hu­mans by mos­qui­toes that have pre­vi­ously bit­ten an in­fected per­son, though sex­ual trans­mis­sion can also oc­cur. Most in­fected peo­ple don’t have symp­toms, but for those who do, it’s usu­ally a mild ill­ness with fever, rash and joint pain. But the dis­ease is es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous to preg­nant women be­cause it can cause se­vere birth de­fects, in­clud­ing ba­bies born with un­usu­ally small heads. None of the peo­ple with home­grown Zika cases in Texas is preg­nant, of­fi­cials said.

Of­fi­cials have gone door-to-door in the woman’s neigh­bor­hood to of­fer test­ing, ed­u­ca­tion about the ill­ness and how to pre­vent mos­quito bites, and tips on how to elim­i­nate mos­quito breed­ing grounds, such as re­mov­ing stand­ing water.

Health of­fi­cials said tests are on­go­ing in the neigh­bor­hood but no other Zika cases have been found. Dr John Heller­st­edt, the state health com­mis­sioner, said colder weather and mos­quito-con­trol ef­forts have de­creased mos­quito ac­tiv­ity in the area, but he warned that South Texas’ mild win­ters mean mos­quito pop­u­la­tions can quickly re­bound dur­ing short pe­ri­ods of warmer weather.

Van Deusen also noted Zika could be in­tro­duced by a trav­eler from an area with an out­break. “Zika is some­thing we’re go­ing to need to be watch­ing for the fore­see­able fu­ture. It’s still cir­cu­lat­ing and it will be,” Van Deusen said.

The lo­cally trans­mit­ted Florida cases were de­tected over the sum­mer. Un­til then, all US cases had been con­nected to peo­ple trav­el­ing to coun­tries with out­breaks, mostly in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean. — AP

HOUS­TON: In this Feb 10, 2016, photo, Darryl Nevins, sprays a back­yard to con­trol mos­qui­toes. — AP

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