Those interested in the program need to obtain a prescription for the repellant, but an office visit is not required if the doctor calls the prescription into the pharmacy. Women have until October 31 to take part in the program and can receive two cans of repellant per month.
Ninety-three cases of travel-related Zika virus have been reported in Texas, with a Houston-area hospital reporting its first death of a newborn due to Zika-related microcephaly.
The outbreak of Zika virus has hit many corners of the globe, progressively marking its presence in the U.S. It is infecting people of all ages, and as of July, 6,400 cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in the U.S., according to the Children’s Hospital Association of Texas. No local cases of transmission of Zika have been reported in Texas to date; all of the cases in Texas have been travel-related.
Dr. Umair Shah, Harris County Public Health executive director, and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett held a news conference August 9 to report on the dangers and prevention of Zika virus.
“Let me be clear,” Emmet said. “We have had no local transmission of Zika in the state of Texas and certainly not in Harris County.”
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said now that locally acquired Zika infections have been discovered in Florida, he expects the same for Texas.
"I would not be surprised to see a local transmission [of Zika] in Texas; we will likely see that sooner than later," Fauci said. "When you have travel-related infections, then you have a pool of infected people in the area. Sooner or later, you're going to have an infection transmission."
The virus is transmitted by a mosquito bite from an infected mosquito, according to CHAT. It can also be transmitted through sexual contact through a sexual partner who is infected with Zika. It can be passed on from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus. Symptoms of the virus, which can remain in the blood stream for at least a week, are fever, joint pain, rashes and red eyes.
“Currently, there are no vaccinations or medicines for Zika, so it is critical to contact your doctor or health professional if you are concerned you may have the virus, especially if you are pregnant or plan on having children,” President of CHAT Stacy Wilson said. “We believe more federal funding is needed to provide states with additional resources to adequately address health concerns associated with Zika.”
If a case of local transmission does occur, Emmett said, like with any other emergency, Harris County Office of Emergency Management will set up an Incident Command Center, just as the county does with hurricanes and ice storms and any other emergency.
"It is all lined up," Emmett said. "Everybody knows what our jobs are if and when a Zika outbreak occurs."
Additional reporting by Jeffrey Forward