The Zika outbreak has experienced a new first: The spread of the virus from state to state.
A Texas resident who recently traveled to an area of Miami known as a hot spot for local Zika transmission tested positive for the virus, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday.
While there’s no evidence that Zika is spreading in Texas, the new case shows that states other than Florida are vulnerable. All that’s required for the disease to spread in Texas is for mosquitoes to bite the infected person, incubate the virus, then bite others.
“This is the first Texas case to be linked to travel within the continental United States. The case will be classified as ‘travel-associated’ and is being investigated for more details,” the department said in a statement..
The El Paso County resident sought testing in Texas after becoming ill. Texas health officials linked the case to Miami after examining dates of travel and the onset of symptoms. It was El Paso County’s first Zika case. The Texas health department said the county had no other evidence of the virus or local transmission.
The Zika virus is usually spread from human to human by the bite of infected mosquitoes. It can also pass from mother to child, through sex and through blood transfusions. Both Texas and Florida have the mosquitoes that spread Zika, called the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. And both have experienced clusters of mosquito-borne diseases in recent years, including dengue and chikungunya. Those outbreaks have been relatively small, however, thanks to the widespread use of screens and air conditioning, which limit Americans’ exposure to mosquito bites.
Infectious disease expert Peter Hotez notes that travelers infected with Zika have been returning to Texas for months.
“It’s probably not a huge story, given that on any particular day there may be many people from Zika-endemic areas of Central America coming into El Paso,” said Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine.
SOURCE: Susan Miller