Texas DSHS Confirms Travel-Related Zika Case in Willacy Co.

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RAYMONDVILLE - Willacy County is the fourth and final county to join the list of Zika virus cases along the Rio Grande Valley.

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed Wednesday that Willacy County has one case of travel-related Zika. As of Tuesday, the department recognized 294 state-wide cases of illnesses due to the Zika virus.

Since Willacy County does not a have a county health department, DSHS will be handling the investigation. Texas DSHS director Chris Van Deusen said the virus might have been contracted over the last few weeks.

“Most likely it was diagnosed in the last couple of weeks at some point…People have traveled, but we continue to see Zika transmitted in Mexico, various parts of Mexico including along the border, as well as Central and South America and the Caribbean,” he said.

Van Deusen said the investigation is slightly different due to it being a travel-related case.

“You’re kind of looking for different things, whether or not it’s in a county where we kind of serve as the local health department. Or if there is a county or city health department, we do an investigation in the case when there is a case brought to light,” he said. “We speak to the patient and tell them about the precautions to take and see where they’ve been, and if there’s any other action we need to take.”

The department director said they also inspect the patient’s home to see if they need to take any further action.

The Zika virus is particularly dangerous for pregnant woman. Experts said Zika has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly.

Van Deusen recommended pregnant woman delay traveling to areas where Zika transmissions are ongoing. He said everyone else should take precautions as well.

“People need to be very careful when they’re traveling to those areas. Remember to continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites because that’s the way they spread to a new area,” he said.

Health state officials recommend the following precautions to prevent the spread of Zika:

  • Apply EPA-registered insect repellents

  • Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts to avoid skin exposure

  • Use screens or close windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home

  • Remove standing water in and around your home

  • Cover trash cans or containers where water can collect

Experts informed symptoms of the Zika virus can include fever, rash, muscle and joint aches and red eyes.

You should visit a local health care provider if you start developing symptoms or think you may be infected.


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