Mosquito-borne illness may be in Texas soon - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Mosquito-borne illness may be in Texas soon

UPDATE: 

The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed a case of the Zika virus in Houston, but luckily for Texans, it was acquired while the patient was traveling outside the country.

While officials in Texas did not reveal where the patient had been traveling, they did say the disease was picked up over the holidays.

Amarillo, TX -  The latest mosquito-borne disease could be seen in Texas soon.

It's called Zika.

And while state officials say they don't believe it's an immediate threat to Texas, they do foresee it making it's way here sooner than they'd like.

Last year the mosquito-borne illness Zika moved from Africa and Asia to Brazil, where it affected more than a million people.

Now it has popped up in Puerto Rico and Mexico and experts say the virus could reach Texas by spring.

So...what exactly does the virus do?

"They develop a viral syndrome where they develop fever and a headache. Many times a rash, sometimes arthralgia which means that their joints hurt and fever. And typically there's an incubation period from a few days to maybe 10 days to 14 days," says Dr. Scott Milton.

The virus produces symptoms like headaches, fever and rashes in adults, but is not thought to be fatal.

And there is some evidence the virus causes Microcephaly in children, which causes babies to be born with very small heads.While the move of the virus has been swift, officials say it thrives more in certain climates...and the Texas panhandle is not a likely environment.

But that is not to say it will not make its way here. Lifestyle differences between the U.S. and Latin America may play a role.

"We still have people that travel here and so while the risk is not as great as some of the southern portions of Texas, it's certainly something that we in a very appropriate way...not an alarmist way but certainly in an appropriate way have to be aware of issues that effect our health," says Environmental Health Director Shaun May.

"I don't think it will be very likely that we'd see it here. Unless we see people that are traveling to those areas that come back and that's always a possibility," says Milton.

May says the key is prevention.

Just as any other mosquito bite PSA he suggests using repellent and wearing protective clothing, regardless of the season. As he tells us it is better to be safe than sorry.

Those traveling between countries are asked to take special pre-cautions to guard themselves against mosquito bites.

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