As of April 4, Texas Department of State Health Services has reported 27 confirmed Zika virus cases in Texas, including 11 in Harris County.
The mosquito species that carry the Zika virus bite primarily during the day, as opposed to the West Nile virus-carrying species that bite at night.
Precautions area residents can take against the virus include personal protection, such as wearing pants and long sleeves and using insect repellent, said Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services.
In addition, Shah recommends that residents mosquito-proof their property by removing and emptying containers that can hold water, such as tires, flower pots, birdbaths and toys. He also suggested that homeowners keep rain gutters free of debris, install or repair screens on windows and doors, and sweep up lawn clippings and leaves. Shah said travelers also can take precautions as well to ward off exposure to the Zika virus.
“Choose lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors,” he said. “Sleep under a mosquito net if you are outside or in a room that is not well-screened.”
Harris County Public Health established a Zika Readiness Team that is assisting with internal planning and communication strategies for overall preparedness and response to the Zika virus, Shah said.
Key personnel include authorities on mosquito control, epidemiology and emergency response; medical personnel; and public-health authorities.
“We are also working closely with our medical and community partners as well as local, state and federal partners,” Shah said. “The key education and communication messages will be on personal protective measures, source reduction around one’s property and important information on traveling to areas where the Zika virus has been found especially if one is pregnant, thinks they may be pregnant or want to be come pregnant.”
Shah advised readers to contact a health-care provider if symptoms develop, such as fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis or headache. He said pregnant women should be especially aware of these symptoms.
Most cases—80 percent—of the Zika virus transmission go unnoticed, and when illness occurs, it manifests in a mild fever, rash and muscle and joint aches, according to TDSHS.
Although microcephaly cases in Brazil are being blamed on the virus, this has not been officially established, according to TDSHS.