A case of the Zika virus, typically borne by mosquitoes, has been confirmed in a Houston patient who recently traveled to El Salvador and probably wasn't from any of the local blood suckers.
The woman reported to her doctor with a rash, joint pain, and muscle aches, and the virus was confirmed late last week through preliminary testing, The Wall Street Journal reported
Umair Shah, executive director of the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services department in Texas said that the woman did not require hospitalization, and has since recovered.
The Zika virus has gained attention in recent months due to an increase in infections in Brazil, where doctors suspect it has caused a neurodevelopmental disorder known as microcephaly — characterized by small head size and incomplete brain development — in newborns. For adults, the infection is rarely fatal, and is usually treated with bed rest and liquids.
Since 2007, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recorded at least 22 cases of Zika in travelers who've returned from other countries. In Brazil, there is an estimated 500,000 to 1.5 million cases.
Dr. Shah said the virus is not likely circulating in any local species of mosquitoes, but noted the situation could eventually change.
Just two weeks ago, Puerto Rico reported its first case in a local who had not traveled outside of the country.
"It’s probably more a case of when Zika virus will be in the U.S. in our mosquito population than if," said Shah.
Mustapha Debboun, Harris County’s director of mosquito control, is actively on the lookout for Zika these days.
"We really have to be very proactive in trying to stop it," he said. "If it’s spreading this fast in South America and Latin America, it might do that in the U.S."
that there is no preventive vaccine for Zika, according to the CDC.
"I am quite worried about Zika taking off on the Gulf coast," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told NBC News
"The problem with it is we have to act now," he said. "This is such an unusual virus. It tends to produce low-level symptoms. You won't know you had a Zika outbreak until nine months later, when babies start being born with microcephaly."
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