UT Professor says Zika Virus outbreak likely in Texas

A possible worldwide outbreak of Zika Virus comes down to one type of mosquito, that's according to a UT professor. At the least Professor Sahotra Sarkar who’s an Austin Disease Ecologist said he believes we will see a local outbreak in Texas and Florida.

Professor Sarkar said there are two different scenarios that could happen this summer, and it all depends on if this second species is basically good at spreading Zika if we see a global epidemic of the disease. He said this couldn’t come at a worse time. “In particular, the worry this summer is that there will be a lot of travel to Brazil because of the Summer Olympics. If they do bring back the virus, then there’s a very good chance there will be many epidemics in many areas of the world,” he said.

Professor Sarkar and his colleagues released new information showing two possible scenarios that could happen this summer, both showing Texas getting a Zika Virus outbreak.

Right now there are two mosquitoes carrying the virus,-one causing all the problems is the Yellow Fever Mosquito. Scenario one, if it is the only mosquito transmitting, only a few states will be at risk. “Texas will be at risk, as will be Florida. Miami and Houston will be the major airports through which the disease gets into the United States,” Prof. Sarkar said.

But if the second type, the Asian Tiger Mosquito turns out to be as good at transmitting as the Yellow Fever Mosquito, second scenario, we could see a big problem. “Everything all the way up to Southern Canada, including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal will all be at risk in the sense that local cycles could be established.”

Both mosquitoes are in Central Texas, one more prominent than others, Professor Sarkar said. “For Texas, the first mosquito is important in South Texas as in Houston (and) Dallas, to a lesser extent here (Austin.) The second mosquito will increase our risk tremendously,” he said.

But he said people shouldn’t worry, but be prepared. “The chances are you will be bit by a mosquito, and absolutely nothing will happen so people should not panic yet. Trying to avoid getting bitten is extremely important. If you put enough deet on your body, no matter what you have in your blood, mosquitos are not going to come and get it.”

The biggest risk is for pregnant woman, whom Zika Virus can cause severe birth defects; Prof. Sarkar said if an outbreak does happen women should just avoid getting pregnant. For those that are not pregnant, he said if you do get bit by a mosquito and you start to show symptoms, such as fever and inflammation, you should tell your doctor you've been bit by a mosquito.

He also suggests for everyone not to have ANY standing water around your home as that is where mosquitos breed.

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