Even though winter is arriving in the South, residents should not get complacent about protecting themselves from mosquito-borne viruses. PCT Online reported last week that a locally-transmitted case of Zika has been discovered in Texas.
“Lab results confirmed the virus in a non-pregnant female resident of Brownsville last week,” the article says. “She has not traveled to an area where the virus is circulating and has no other known exposure to the virus that would have put her at risk for infection.”
Lab testing found the virus in her urine but not in her blood, so she cannot transmit the virus to another mosquito. The Texas Department of State Health Services is requesting voluntary urine samples from the woman’s neighbors to see if anyone else has been infected.
Temperatures in many of the southern states have not been consistently cold enough to kill mosquito adults or larvae, so everyone should continue to heed advice about self-protection against mosquito bites. Steps include using repellent, wearing long sleeves, eliminating standing water and keeping windows closed.
A person can have Zika and not know it, says Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control. About 80 percent of those infected show no symptoms. Because the virus can be sexually transmitted, pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant should avoid unprotected sex with a partner who has been infected or who has been in an area where the virus is circulating.