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by Sarah J.F. Braley | November 29, 2016

The first Texas case of the Zika virus transmitted by a local mosquito has been announced by the Department of State Health Services and the Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services. The patient is a resident of Cameron County, at the state's southern tip. She is not pregnant; the woman's case was confirmed last week by lab test. She had not traveled anywhere that had reports of ongoing Zika virus transmission. The state said there are no other cases of suspected local transmission, but health officials are conducting disease-surveillance activities as part of the state's ongoing Zika response. 

"We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas," said Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the DSHS. "We still don't believe the virus will become widespread in Texas, but there could be more cases, so people need to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially in parts of the state that stay relatively warm in the fall and winter."

Cameron County, DSHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working together to attempt to pinpoint how and where the infection occurred. The DSHS also has activated the State Medical Operations Center to support the response, providing expertise, personnel and equipment for activities from disease investigation to mosquito surveillance to public education.

A statement from the DHSH said travel back and forth across the border into Mexico is a way of life in the area where the case was found, and there have been reports from Mexico that Zika has been transmitted by local mosquitoes in several communities on the Mexican side of the border. As of last week, Texas had 257 confirmed cases of the disease; all previous cases had been associated with travel, including two infants born to women who had traveled during their pregnancy and two people who had sexual contact with infected travelers. Additional information on cases and for the public is available here

For more information on the disease and suggestions for prevention, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Zika page.