Local Health Department Asking for Aid to Combat Zika

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MCALLEN- The World Health Organization declared an international emergency for the Zika virus on Monday. Seven cases were confirmed in the Houston area and one in Bexar County. Local health organizations are now asking for help to prevent the spread of the virus.

The McAllen Health Department wants a local laboratory to test for mosquito viruses. Officials want faster results to defend against Zika.

McAllen Health Department Director Josh Ramirez said the Rio Grande Valley is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“It can be Christmas Day and we’re breeding mosquitoes,” he said. “Nowhere else in the world that happens.”

Some families in the Valley are worried the Zika virus may affect them.

“It really scares us, let’s put it that way,” Ivan Ambriz said.

Ambriz said he fears for the future of his family, due to the symptoms the Zika virus has.

“We’ve got a sister-in-law who’s pregnant,” he said.

McAllen Health Department Director Josh Ramirez said he wants to act fast.

“Right now, we are setting up traps we’ll have along the border,” he said. “We’ll try to focus to the closest point to the city of Reynosa, especially toward the area where it was impacted.”

Ramirez said the lack of a local laboratory hinders his goal. He said the department always has to send results across the state.

“Sometimes, what happens when they get to Austin, well in transport, they were damaged or something happened,” Ramirez said.

Director Ramirez sent a letter to the Center for Disease Control for more resources. The letter states:

“As you already know of the WHO's declaration, again, we would like for CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases to consider allocating resources for a mosquito testing facility in partnership with the City of McAllen Health Department, Hidalgo County Health & Human Services Department, along the border, and more specifically within the City of McAllen.“

Ivan Ambriz said he wants to see everyone get involved.

“That way we can help our children and ourselves, before it’s too late,” he said.

Director Ramirez said he will give the CDC a few days to reply to his letter. He said the Health Department is also working with the cities of Pharr and Mission to install mosquito traps.

Count on CHANNEL 5 NEWS to keep our viewers informed on the very latest efforts cities are taking to combat the Zika virus.

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