Texas (USA) - Zika virus update: testing guidance expanded
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) on April 7, 2017 issued a health alert that now recommends testing all pregnant residents of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata counties in both the first and second trimesters of pregnancy and any resident who has a rash plus at least one other common Zika symptom: fever, joint pain or eye redness. DSHS is expanding its testing guidance for residents of these six South Texas counties as the state prepares for additional local transmission of the Zika virus during the 2017 mosquito season.
For the rest of the state, DSHS continues to recommend testing anyone who has at least three of those four Zika symptoms and all pregnant women who have traveled to areas with ongoing Zika transmission, including any travel to any part of Mexico.
Texas had six cases of local mosquito transmission of Zika virus disease in Brownsville in November and December 2016. The region is considered a likely place for Zika to spread because of its history of local transmission of dengue, a closely related virus, and its proximity to Mexico, where there continues to be ongoing local Zika transmission, including in communities just across the border.
As temperatures continue to warm up, mosquito activity will increase, so people statewide should protect themselves from mosquitoes at home and while traveling to areas where Zika is spreading. Precautions include consistently using mosquito repellent when outside, wearing long sleeves and pants, and using air conditioning or making sure window screens will keep mosquitoes out of the home. Texas is also calling on people to pick up trash and dump out containers that could hold standing water in and around their homes and businesses to deny mosquitoes a place to lay their eggs, decrease the overall number of mosquitoes, and help protect family members and neighbors from Zika.