Zika virus confirmed in Hays County

The Hays County Health Department received confirmation from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a local, travel-associated case of the Zika virus infection in Hays County, according to a Hays County press release.

The individual, who is not contagious and does not pose a risk to Hays County residents, contracted the illness while traveling to Puerto Rico in August 2016. 

The mosquito that carries Zika is native to Central Texas. Zika virus is transmitted to persons primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. That species of mosquito can also transmit West Nile virus, dengue fever and chikungunya virus, are aggressive daytime biters and are located near populated areas.

According to  the release, it is critical to follow your health care provider’s recommendation to reduce exposure to others.

On Nov. 28, the Texas DSHS reported the state’s first case of a local mosquito-borne Zika virus infection in Brownsville. Additional cases of mosquito-borne Zika have been identified in the area, suggesting that there is a risk of continued spread of Zika virus in Brownsville, TX.

On Dec. 14, 2016, the CDC issued guidance related to Zika for people living in or traveling to Brownsville and Cameron counties.

In January 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted interim guidelines for health care providers in the United States caring for pregnant women during a Zika virus outbreak.

Zika infection in pregnant women may be associated with congenital microcephaly and fetal loss. Guillain-Barre syndrome has also been reported in patients after suspected Zika infection.

CDC is recommending that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

What can you do to prevent mosquito bites?

Preventative measures residents can take to avoid mosquito bites include:

• Draining any water around their property (mosquitos can breed in as little as a bottle cap full of water)
• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
• Using EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus (follow directions closely)

A link to the guidance can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6502e1.htm. Persons with suspected infections should also be evaluated and managed for possible dengue and chikungunya virus. Aspirin and other NSAID’s should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage.

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