Texas baby’s death linked to Zika virus

An Aedes aegypti mosquito photographed through a microscope (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
An Aedes aegypti mosquito photographed through a microscope (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A Texas infant’s death in Harris County has been linked to the Zika virus.

The baby was reportedly pronounced dead shortly after it was born becoming the first death relating to Zika in Texas. While she was pregnant, the mother visited Latin America where she is believed to have been infected.

The case has been classified as travel-related, meaning there is not an additional risk for Texans. The Texas Department of State Health Services is working with the Harris County Public Health center and the CDC to prevent future cases.

“Zika’s impact on unborn babies can be tragic, and our hearts are with this family,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner. “Our central mission from the beginning has been to do everything we can to protect unborn babies from the devastating effects of Zika.”

Zika advisory at ABIA (KXAN Photo/Arezow Doost)
Zika advisory at ABIA (KXAN Photo/Arezow Doost)

Parent Savina Garcia from Austin is worried, “because I’m pregnant and I hear something about the babies.”

Garcia is due in October. She’s originally from Mexico and says she won’t be going to visit family anytime soon.

Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services is targeting travelers like Garcia.

At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, signs are posted as travelers make their way through the security checkpoint warning people headed to Latin America.

“Our local mosquitoes are the type that can transmit this virus so we need to do everything we can preventatively,” said Dr. Philip Huang who is the Medical Director. “This is where we are seeing the local transmission and very wide spread local transmission.”

Dr. Huang says the city also sent out information with utility bills both in English and Spanish.

The first case of Zika was reported in Harris County last month. So far, there have been 99 cases of Zika virus in Texas.

Starting Aug. 9, Texas Medicaid will cover the cost of mosquito repellent for eligible women.

To Quality for Mosquito Repellent

Women who are between the ages of 10 and 45 or pregnant are eligible for the free repellent. To be covered, a doctor must prescribe the repellent and the patient must pick it up at a pharmacy. The patient can call their doctor to ask for a prescription, there is no need to actually go into the office. Patients can present their Medicaid prescription card just like they would with any prescription. Eligible women can get up to two cans per month through Oct. 31.

Women in the following programs are covered:

  • Medicaid
  • CHIP
  • CHIP-Perinate
  • Healthy Texas Women
  • Family Planning

For more information on coverage and preventative measures, visit TexasZika.org.

Learn more about the virus and how to prevent it here. 

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