LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Texas Department of State Health Services confirms the Zika virus has been found in a traveler who recently returned from travel outside of the United States.
The individual developed symptoms that are often associated with the Zika virus which include: fever, rash and joint pain.
The City of Lubbock Health Department (COLHD) works in conjunction with the City of Lubbock Vector Control Group who surveys local mosquito populations, submits mosquitoes for disease testing and treats mosquito breeding areas throughout Lubbock City and County. At this time no mosquitoes have tested positive for Zika virus.
It is anticipated that additional individuals who travel to areas with active Zika transmission will be identified over the next few months.
To reduce the risk of Zika to the Lubbock community individuals returning from Zika-affected areas that feel sick upon return should see their health care provider and report that they have traveled. Pregnant women should consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
Personal precautions include:
- Wear an EPA registered insect repellant
- Cover up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Keep mosquitoes out of living areas by using air conditioning or intact window screens
- Limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito times.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is typically mild and resolves within one week. However, Zika infection in pregnant women is associated with congenital microcephaly and fetal loss. Guillain-Barre syndrome has also been reported in patients after Zika infection.
West Nile Virus is also a concern for residents of West Texas. The symptoms are generally mild, including fever, headache and rash but may cause neurological complications. Texas reports many cases each year, some resulting in hospitalization and death.
Preventative measures residents can take to avoid mosquito bites include draining standing water around their property, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and using EPA-registered insect repellents.
The first case of Zika virus in the United States was confirmed in early February in Dallas.
That case was sexually transmitted to another individual by someone who traveled outside of the United States.
As of today, the CDC website shows there are a total of 756 reported and confirmed cases of Zika virus in the United States.
Out of that number, 234 of the cases involve pregnant women.
Not one of these cases was acquired by local mosquitoes.
In the state of Texas, there are 42 cases of Zika, again all acquired through travel outside of the U.S.
And today, Lubbock County confirmed the first travel related case of Zika.
"With Zika, there is no active disease transmission in the US. So the only way that individuals are getting Zika is they travel and then they come back to Lubbock or wherever they live and they are diagnosed with the disease," Director of Public Health Katherine Wells said.
But this is something Wells says was not a surprise.
"We expect to see travel associated cases throughout the summer. This is just the first one we've had and we want people to be aware of Zika and other mosquito borne diseases," she said.
She also says even with this travel associated case, the concern locally is not very high.
She says the only way for the Zika virus to spread locally, outside of sexual transmission, is for the infected individual to be bitten by a local mosquito, and that local mosquito would have to bite another person.
No local mosquitoes have tested positive for the disease.
Right now the concern is still with traveling abroad.
"It's very important that you wear mosquito repellant and avoid getting any mosquito bite while you're traveling," Wells said.
Here at home, the City of Lubbock vector control will continue to survey all bodies of water in the city and county, lay out traps and treat mosquito populations in the water to try and eliminate them before they develop.
Aside from always wearing mosquito repellant outside, here are the ways you can prevent mosquitoes around your house.
"Get rid of any mosquito breeding grounds, especially standing water. Mosquitoes that carry Zika or any other disease really like to breed in small amounts of water. So by going through and dumping out any child's toys, sand boxes, flower pots that maybe have collected water in these recent rains. Just dump them and at least do that once a week," Wells said.