Officials: No Mosquito Has Tested Positive for Zika in Cameron Co.
BROWNSVILLE – Six people have contracted the Zika virus in Brownsville, yet health officials said not one mosquito trapped this entire year, throughout the city, has tested positive for the virus.
Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo said health providers and researchers are learning more about the virus as they study new cases. He said the answer could lie across the border.
Thousands of mosquitoes have been trapped throughout Brownsville, including plenty of aedes aegypti, but zero tested positive for Zika.
Dr. Castillo said the infected blood supply is likely being brought by people coming from Mexico.
“People cross the border and sometimes people are coming over with Zika in their blood. They have no symptoms, they feel just fine. They’re bit by a local mosquito, that mosquito lives for a few weeks and can bite other people,” he said.
Currently, Cameron County has no solid proof that there are infected mosquitoes already in the area. Dr. Castillo said they are relying on health experts’ educated guess and what is known about Zika to make determinations on each case.
“There’s no test that’s going to tell us, well where did you get this? So when we get a report that a person has tested positive for Zika, what we’re doing from the county is we’re asking our epidemiologists, which are experts, and asking questions about where could this have possibly come from,” he said.
Dr. Castillo said Zika originated in Africa and has been around for years, but it’s new to the U.S. and that’s all they have to go by right now as researchers work to learn more.
“What we’re left with is the most likely scenario,” he said.
Dr. Castillo said since only 20 percent of infected people are symptomatic, there’s a good possibility that there’s plenty other people infected with the virus. Until they know more, the best they can do, he said, is outreach to educate people about the risks, especially for pregnant woman.
“As it starts becoming harder to figure out, we might be saying we don’t know how somebody got it. We can’t tell if they got it in Brownsville or Matamoros, or wherever else they traveled to. So going forward what we’re going to start doing is really being much more specific on our investigations,” he said.
Dr. Castillo is certain about one thing – it will take many years to completely understand the long-term effect of the virus.
The thousands of mosquitoes trapped have tested negative but he said it’s impossible to catch every single mosquito.
The Brownsville Health Department is continuing to trap mosquitoes and spraying in areas with high counts.