Image Credits: Andre Penner/Associated Press

On Monday, November 28, Texas reported its first case of locally transmitted Zika virus, becoming the second state in the US to do so.  The affected woman is a Cameron County, Texas woman who is not pregnant and has not recently traveled to affected areas.  It has been determined that she is no longer at risk for spreading the virus herself.  This new announcement by Texas has reminded the country and the world that we are still fighting this virus.  We don’t have a vaccine yet. While we wait for the next administration to potentially deal with Zika, or for some independent group to come up with a solution, here are thirteen things YOU should know about the Zika virus.

  1. Zika virus is transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitos and is considered a mosquito-borne flavivirus

  2. Zika virus was first identified in Ugandan monkeys in 1947.

  3. The first large outbreak of Zika occurred in 2007 in Micronesia.

  4. Symptoms of Zika virus include fever, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, headache, malaise, and conjunctivitis. Symptoms usually last 2-7 days.

  5. A concerning complication of Zika virus involves babies born to infected mother having microcephaly, a congenital brain abnormality.

  6. It has also been observed that Zika can trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare syndrome in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system and causes muscle weakness.

  7. Aside from mosquitoes, Zika transmission can occur through sexual contact.

  8. Though Zika can be found in breast milk, there has been no documentation that mothers can pass Zika virus to their infants through breastfeeding.

  9. For most people, Zika virus is relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. This is not necessarily true for those with already compromised immune systems or women who are pregnant.

  10. Due to the fetal complications associated with Zika, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issues travel warnings for areas with active Zika transmission, including Miami-Dade county, and countries including Mexico, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Barbados, Peru, et cetera. You can see the full map here.

  11. Inovio Pharmaceuticals in Pennsylvania is currently testing an experimental Zika vaccine.  

  12. By the end of October, over 180 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus had been documented in Florida.

  13. Mosquito control is an excellent way to help prevent zika while vaccines are being investigated. The less mosquitoes there are to bite people, the less mosquito-borne transmission.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Zika Virus, you can read the World Health Organization’s November Zika Situation Report. You can also read the Zika Strategic Response Plan.  

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member