Health officials have confirmed the first case of the Zika Virus in Travis County.
The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department says the man is under the age of 50, and he got the virus while he was traveling in Colombia. “We have people from the U.S. going to the countries where this disease is spreading by bites of infected mosquitos, and they are returning home and developing their symptoms,” said Jeffery Taylor who is an Epidemiologist for the health department.
Taylor said he believes they will see more cases of the virus. “We suspect we will see more not only in the State of Texas, but also here in Austin,” he said.
The virus is spread through infected mosquitos, blood transfusions, and sexual transmission. The biggest threat right now is to pregnant women. Many babies have been born with severe birth defects with symptoms including smaller than normal heads. Any pregnant woman who has traveled to infected countries should see their OBGYN immediately, even if they aren't showing symptoms. “Most people when they are exposed to an infected mosquito and get an infection may not have symptoms at all. They don't know that they have virus circulating. It's only a small percent that have symptoms,” Taylor said,
We aren't in mosquito season yet here in Central Texas, but Taylor said Travis County residents should start taking precautions because mosquitos that can carry Zika are in Texas. “You need to empty water containers in your yard. These mosquitos breed within our neighborhood, near our household. If you do go outside, wear long sleeves, long pants, put on deet or insect repellant to protect yourself from mosquito bites.”
Health officials said it's new territory for them, but they are monitoring the virus' every move. Taylor said, “The local health departments will be doing surveillance to see if we have these species circulating in the community. ‘Are they positive for Zika Virus?’ Much like they did for West Nile Virus. We do have a plan, but we don't expect that it will spread,” Taylor said.
CDC ZIKA VIRUS INFORMATION
Zika virus has symptoms similar to flu, but with Zika, patients will get a rash or conjunctivitis. Although health officials have some concerns, it's important to note that this is not life threatening in most adults.
Health officials are testing about a dozen more possible cases here in Travis County. The Zika testing is done in Atlanta right now and takes about 10 days to get results back.