Four Zika cases in Florida are likely the first transmitted by mosquitoes in the United States, that's according to Florida's governor Friday.
Medical experts said it's likely Zika infected mosquitoes will soon be in Louisiana and here in Texas. Those medical experts said there are probably more cases that haven't even been diagnosed and we shouldn't be surprised if we see mosquitoes spreading Zika here in the Lonestar State.
Three new travel related cases were reported here in Central Texas Friday. In Williamson County, three people who traveled to Central America and the Caribbean have been infected with the virus.
But some good news, researchers at the UT Texas Medical Branch in Galveston said they have made a promising discovery regarding Zika. Nicholas Barrows is a Study Author at UTMB "We've taken a very important first step towards the identification of a bona fide treatment for a serious virus,” he said.
Currently, there are no approved vaccines or treatments for the virus. But the UT Researchers said they believe a drug to treat the infection could already exist. "We chose drugs that were already on the market drugs that treat other human diseases so these would have a safety profile they've been through safety testing in humans," Barrows said. They tested 774 FDA approved drugs and they said they found 20 could be treatment options for people infected with Zika. "These are drugs that are currently given to pregnant women they are at least reasonably safe under the appropriate conditions, these are the drugs that will be at the top of the list to be considered for immediate trials," Barrows said.
With cases likely transmitted through mosquitoes in Florida now, the CDC said their top priority is to protect pregnant women from the potentially devastating birth defects caused by Zika. "The bottom line is that Zika is here now. That's what we anticipated, and it reiterates the really important message, particularly for pregnant women, wherever the mosquito that spreads Zika best Ades Aegypti is present and that's 30 states in the U.S., pregnant women and others, should use mosquito repellent, wear long sleeves, long pants and avoid mosquito bites,” said Thomas Frieden,M.D. CDC Director.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been 84 reported cases of Zika in Texas, two in Travis County, four in Williamson County. None of those were transmitted through mosquitoes, but health experts said that is likely to change and UT researchers are hopeful they'll be able to help. Dr. Shelton Bradrick is with UTMB Galveston “Take one of these drugs or a combination of these drugs and use them to treat a pregnant woman in order to prevent transmission to the fetus that's the main goal,” he said.
Because of the recent cases in Florida, the Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas said they are changing their donor eligibility. As of Saturday morning, they are adding additional travel deferrals to their donor eligibility questionnaire which include Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hendry, Collier and Monroe counties. If you have traveled to those counties in Florida within the last 28 days will not be able to donate.