In roughly 40 countries spanning four continents, mosquito bites are spreading the Zika virus
For many, this temperature is perfect for a run and a bonus for John Garcia at Buffalo Bayou Park tonight. “That’s probably the best thing about this weather is the mosquitos are gone,” said Garcia.
But as the weather warms and more mosquitoes buzz health officials have a warning. The first confirmed case of the Zika virus is in Harris County after a woman traveled to El Salvador.
“Fortunately we don’t have evidence of Zika in our local mosquito population but when somebody goes to another country we want them to take the appropriate precautions,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, Executive Director for Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services.
Reported cases include Latin America, South America and Africa.
Symptoms include fever, rash and joint pain that usually last several weeks. There is particular concern for pregnant women who may travel to certain regions as there is a possible link between the virus and birth defects.
Dr. Scott Weaver with UTMB’s Institute for Human Infections and Immunity says its a major concern.
“There have been only a few cases definitively linked to Zika virus infection but we think it’s likely many of these cases that may total more than 3,000 in Brazil alone could be due to Zika virus infection,” said Weaver. “That’s a major concern.”
Members of the research team at UTMB’s Galveston National Laboratory have been tracking the spread of the Aedes mosquito-borne Zika outbreak, especially once it reached Brazil last year.
There is no vaccine or specific treatment though UTMB is conducting experiments in that area. The best advice health officials have is to take precautions to prevent any mosquito bites.
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“If it gets to Houston and spread through the mosquitos but I guess that would be in the summer or spring when there’s more mosquitos around,” said runner John Garcia.