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Texas Reports First Locally-imported Zika Case

The El Paso resident is said to have contracted the infection while visiting Miami, Florida, where active Zika transmission has been confirmed

On Monday, August 15, 2016, the first ‘locally-imported’ Zika case was reported in El Paso, Texas. The patient is said to have contracted the infection while visiting Miami, Florida, where active Zika transmission has been confirmed.

The individual was tested for Zika after becoming ill upon returning from the trip. A press release from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) notes that this is to be classified as a ‘travel-associated’ Zika case, since the individual did not acquire infection in his or her state of residence. According to the DSHS, the infection was identified to have been acquired in Miami “after closely evaluating travel dates, symptom onset date and known local transmission of Zika virus in Miami. This will be El Paso County’s first Zika case, and the county has found no other evidence of the virus or local transmission.”

Today, the Florida Department of Health confirmed that the number of locally acquired Zika cases in the state is still 30. Currently, there have been a total of 108 international travel-related Zika cases reported in Texas as of yesterday; three of whom are pregnant women, two are congenitally-infected infants, and one who acquired the infection through sexual contact. Approximately one week ago, Texas reported its first Zika-related death, a congenitally-infected infant from Harris County who was diagnosed with microcephaly.

In addition to this, an increase of standing water due to a recent flood may cause a rise in the Zika vector population in another southern US state: Louisiana. As a result of the Amite River flood, which left tens of thousands of civilians stranded and at least nine dead, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards requested a federal emergency declaration, according to CNN. However, collateral damage is not the only repercussion of this historic flood. According to Governor Edwards, this flood will cause an increase in Aedes mosquito populations around the area. He said in an interview with CNN, “We’re going to have more than our share of mosquitoes. And with the Zika threat, we need assistance to spray for mosquitoes and for mosquito control and abatement. That is made available to us as a result of the declaration.”

Ben Beard, PhD, from the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), stated that the flood poses little threat in regards to the spread of Zika. This is because the vast amount of rain that caused the flood would also decrease the prevalence of disease-carrying mosquitoes in the area.

The Texas DSHS is advising all those who have traveled to Zika-endemic areas to take the necessary precautions to avoid infecting the local Zika vector population upon returning home to Texas. They recommend using EPA-approved insect repellent, covering exposed skin, using window and door screens at home, removing standing water in and around homes, and covering cans or containers where water can collect.