News

Texas Reports First Probable Local Zika Transmission This Year

This appears to be 2017's first instance of a mosquito spreading the virus in the United States.

A resident of Texas’ Hidalgo County who previously contracted Zika virus was likely infected in the state, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported Wednesday.

The patient had not recently traveled to an area with local Zika transmissions and did not have any other risk factors for the virus, such as having had sex with an individual who had traveled to an outbreak zone. The patient, who was likely infected in the last few months, is no longer at risk of spreading Zika to local mosquitos, according to the Texas DSHS.

The mosquito-transmitted case appears to be the first local transmission in the United States this year, the department reports.

There were 224 cases of local Zika transmission the U.S. last year, concentrated in Florida and Texas, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s something of a surprise that we hadn’t seen Zika transmission up until this point,” Chris Van Deusen, the director of media relations at DSHS, told HuffPost.

“When we look at similar diseases like dengue, the most likely period for transmission is in the late part of the summer and fall. We’re really getting into the peak of mosquito season,” he said. “It’s certainly still a possibility through the rest of the year.”

Local Zika transmissions are a critical concern. In pregnant women, the infection can cause microcephaly, a birth defect that’s connected to developmental disabilities and babies born with smaller-than-average heads.

In April, the Texas DSHS expanded testing of pregnant women and people with Zika symptoms in six south Texas counties, which is what led to identifying the probable local transmission in Hidalgo County.