Should Texas Worry About the Zika Virus?

Zika

Zika infographic courtesy of Unicef.org

This is Passport to Texas

According to the World Health Organization: Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947.

It’s one of these tropical diseases that was known in the literature, but there weren’t any outbreaks until more recently.

Mike Quinn is an entomologist in Austin who’s been following reports of the virus and its carrier, often called the yellow fever mosquito.

The consensus is that it’s Aedes aegypti that’s the main culprit. The Aedes aegypti being people specific is an effective vector in that it can bite one person with the disease virus, and then bite another person and transmit that virus.

The World Health Organization tells us: Substantial new research has strengthened the association between Zika infection and the occurrence of fetal malformations and neurological disorders. We’ve seen this most markedly in Brazil, with an increase in microcephaly in newborns of infected mothers. Do we need to worry in Texas? Is this mosquito in our midst?

It’s an introduced species. And it is most common around the southeastern gulf coast states, but it’s in the eastern half of Texas.

Direct infection by a mosquito has not occurred in Texas. Reported cases have been in people who traveled to zika hot spots. Tomorrow: what we can do to manage mosquitoes around the home.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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