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ATLANTA (CBSDFW.COM) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded $720,000 to Texas to establish, enhance, and maintain information-gathering systems to rapidly detect microcephaly–a serious birth defect of the brain–and other adverse outcomes caused by Zika virus infection.

The funding will also help Texas ensure that affected infants and their families are referred to appropriate health and social services, according to a CDC news release Tuesday.

The money is also meant to help the state monitor the health and developmental outcomes of children affected by Zika over time.

“It is critical to identify infants affected by Zika so we can support them and their families,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “This CDC funding provides real-time data about the Zika epidemic as it unfolds in the United States and territories and will help those most devastated by this virus.”

Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Zika infection can also be spread by infected men and women to their sex partners. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika and many people infected with Zika have no symptoms. Of those who do have symptoms, the most common complaints are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe defects in the developing fetus.

CDC encourages everyone, especially pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant, to protect themselves from mosquito bites to avoid possible Zika virus infection.

For more information on Zika, click here.

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