The City of El Paso Department of Public Health announced Monday the confirmation of the first travel-related case of Zika virus in the area. A man tested positive for the virus following travel to an area where active mosquito transmission of Zika is currently taking place and travel advisories have been issued.
“The patient provided blood and urine samples which were tested and came back positive. What we know is that this individual is recovering and is not considered a threat to the community,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director. “What we need is the community to take note that Zika virus is real, and we must protect ourselves and the community.”
The mosquito-borne virus has caused the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue travel warnings for pregnant women. The DPH is also encouraging anyone who may be traveling to Zika-affected regions including certain areas of Florida, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and U.S. territories to take strict precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.
Because Zika can be transmitted sexually, pregnant women with a male partner who travels to a Zika-affected area should either abstain from sexual activity, or use condoms correctly and consistently for the duration of their pregnancy to protect the unborn fetus from the risk of severe birth defects, including microcephaly. Additionally, non-pregnant women of childbearing age who travel, or who have a male partner that travels, to a Zika-affected region, should talk with their healthcare providers about their pregnancy plans and take steps to avoid any unintended pregnancy, including correct and consistent condom use.
According to the Department of State Health Services, there are 108 reported cases of Zika virus disease in Texas.
Efforts to combat the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that transmit the disease began locally in February after an outbreak was detected in Brazil. On May 9, the DPH convened a stakeholders meeting with key officials in public health and other related fields. Contact with these groups continues as the threat of local transmission remains a possibility.
The DPH has provided thousands of informational material both in print and online to key stakeholders including doctor’s offices, recreation centers, and through our clinical venues.
Look for more details tonight on NewsChannel 9.