Zika Virus is a form of Mosquito-born Flavivirus (the group of RNA Viruses that also includes the Yellow Fever and Hepatitis C Viruses), which has been reported episodically in warm regions of Africa and Asia since the 1940s and in the Americas since 2015. In most cases it causes only a mild fever, however in cases where pregnant women have been infected it has been linked to cerebral birth defects, including microcephaly, a severe underdevelopment of the brain of an infant, leading to life-long disabilities.
The disease was first reported in the Americas in April 2015, and since then has spread to a number of other South and Central American and Caribbean nations, with cases reported in other countries across the globe linked to infection in the Americas. The first case of Mosquito transmission of the disease withing the United States was reported in Miami-Dade County in Florida in August this year.
In a press release issued on 28 November 2016 the Texas Department of State Health Services reported the first known case of Mosquito transmission of Zika Virus in the state. The infection was reported in a (non-pregnant) woman in Cameron County who had not travelled to any area of known transmission.
To date Texas has reported 257 cases of Zika infection, with almost all of these attributed to infection overseas in patients that had travelled to areas of known infection. Four other cases where this was not the case have been reported, two of which were infants born to infected mothers and two of which have been attributed to sexual transmission (like many Viruses, Zika can be passed through sexual contact, though this is not the main form of infection).
Representatives of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently carrying out door-to-door visits in Cameron County and the City of Brownsville, giving advice on recognising Zika symptoms and eliminating Mosquito breeding-habits close to homes, as well as collecting urine samples for screening for the virus.
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