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HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas has received laboratory confirmation of a past Zika virus infection in a baby recently born with microcephaly in Harris County. The mother traveled from Latin America, where she was likely infected, and the baby acquired the infection in the womb. Neither baby nor mother are infectious, and there is no additional risk in Texas.
This is the first Zika-related microcephaly case in Texas.
“It’s heartbreaking. This underscores the damage Zika can have on unborn babies,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner. “Our state’s work against Zika has never been more vital.”
DSHS is coordinating with Harris County Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to follow the case.
Texas has logged 59 cases of Zika virus disease, including three confirmed cases of Zika in pregnant women. All are related to travel abroad to areas with active Zika transmission. There have been no reported cases of Zika virus transmitted by mosquitoes in Texas.
With its link to microcephaly, Zika poses a serious threat to unborn children. DSHS says it’s working to educate women and families about how to protect themselves through its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and via healthcare providers. DSHS also says it’s working closely with other state agencies to emphasize precaution information to their specific audiences, such as through schools, daycares and women’s health programs.
While local transmission in Texas remains likely, public health officials do not expect widespread transmission across large geographic areas of the state. Small pockets of cases in limited clusters are more likely. This assessment is based on the state’s past experience with dengue, a similar virus spread by the same mosquitoes, and on the prevalent use of window screens, air conditioning, insect repellent and other mosquito control efforts in Texas.
“Our central goal is protecting unborn babies from Zika,” said Dr. Hellerstedt. “We are on alert for local transmission and will act fast to identify actual risk and continue to do everything we can to protect Texans.”
State health officials urge everyone to follow precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites:
For information about Zika prevention in Texas, click here.
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