Austinites traveling to Rio Grande Valley concerned about Zika

Mosquitos with the Zika virus (CDC)
Mosquitos with the Zika virus (CDC)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Monday, health officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services announced the state’s first Zika virus case by a locally transmitted mosquito. It comes just hours after some Central Texans had just gotten back from spending their holidays in the Rio Grande Valley.

“The weather was good and we had a lot of fun it’s always with family,” Cris Chappa says. “I just didn’t think [Zika] was going to get to the Valley, I didn’t, but now it is.”

Chappa was in the Valley for 5 days, she’s concerned about her family still there. Chappa didn’t spend time in Brownsville, Texas where the Zika case was found, she was less than 50 miles away in both Donna and Edinburg, Texas.

“Nobody is pregnant right now, they already have their babies, thank God! But my dad, my dad, he’s you know, he’s 76 years old.” Chappa said.

Representatives with the state health department say while it is serious, people travelling to the Valley should not be concerned yet.

“This is a single case. It’s not the kind of situation where we’ve seen ongoing sustained transmission, so there’s no call for a travel advisory or other travel guidance at this point,” Chris Van Deusen, with the Texas Department of State Health Services said.

The city of Austin is still gathering samples of mosquitoes to make sure no Zika-carrying mosquitoes pop up in Central Texas. “I think we anticipated something like this happening,” Dr. Phil Huang, the Health Authority and Medical Director with Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department says.

Dr. Huang explains right now Austin is treating the situation as if we could be next in getting locally transmitted Zika.

“We’re doing the ongoing monitoring for human cases and so whenever we get cases or suspected cases, we work with local providers and practitioners to work on getting [patients] testing,” Dr. huang said. “We also have been collecting mosquitoes and are doing mosquito monitoring, so all of those efforts are part of what we’re doing.”

Health officials also hope Texas will get it’s first freeze soon.

“This comes at a fairly good time, it’s getting toward the end of mosquito season though in places like South Texas there’s always a risk because it can stay warm for so long, but for most of the state this is around the end of mosquito season,” Van Deusen said. “[But] it is very likely will see Zika pop up again when it starts to warm up next year.”

“Well I’m gonna call everybody,the first one I’m gonna call is my sister-in-law because she’s the one that has kids and they have a couple of bites on their face,” Chapa said.

For now, officials are urging everyone remember the Four D’s.

  • Use any Deet or other EPA approved repellent
  • Drain any standing water
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants
  • Be aware mosquitos carying Zika are out at Dawn, during the Day and at Dusk

For more information visit the CDC’s information page on the virus.

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