Texas Reports Local Zika Case, First Outside Florida


November 28, 2016

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) today announced the first case of a person infected with the Zika virus likely spread by a bite from a mosquito in the state, making it the first reported instance of local Zika transmission in the United States outside of Florida.

Through November 23, 253 people in Texas have been diagnosed with Zika, but all of them acquired the virus either by traveling in a region where the virus is mosquito-borne or through sex with an infected traveler, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pregnant women infected with the virus can pass it on to their fetus, which can lead to certain birth defects such as microcephaly. The virus also is strongly associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults.

In the case announced today, the patient is an unidentified woman — not pregnant — who lives in Cameron County, Texas, which borders Mexico along the Gulf Coast. Lab tests last week confirmed her infection. Genetic material from the Zika virus was discovered in her urine, but a blood test for the virus proved negative, meaning that she can no longer spread the virus through a mosquito bite.

She reported no recent trips to Mexico or any other area with ongoing Zika virus transmission, and no other risk factors, such as sex with a possibly infected person, according to the Texas DSHS.

The agency is searching for other possible mosquito-borne cases of Zika in the county and trapping and testing mosquitos for the virus. The CDC said today that it is working with Texas and local officials to increase surveillance efforts and vector-control activities in Cameron County.

"We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas," said DSHS commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, in a news release. "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."

As of November 23, the United States had 4444 laboratory-confirmed Zika cases, according to the CDC. Of these cases, 4261 were travel-related. In a single case, the virus was acquired through exposure in a laboratory. The remaining 182 cases, not counting today's, were infections spread by the bite of a local mosquito, and they were all in Florida. Active local transmission, however, has been confined to sections of Miami-Dade County.

Follow Robert Lowes on Twitter @LowesRobert


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