Local reaction to spreading Zika virus in US

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Concerns continue over the Zika virus, Elissa Rivas reports. (KTRK)

Visitors to Galveston Island are watching out for mosquitoes after the recent news of the Zika virus in the U.S.

VIDEO: What you should know about Zika virus
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Medical expert Dr. Richard Besser explains Zika virus

"It does concern me for my children and my grandchildren, but I don't that it's going to do you any good to be worried about because if it's here," said Jimmy.

Four recently infected people in the Miami area - one woman and three men - are believed to have caught the virus locally through mosquito bites, Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference.

U.S. health officials said they do not expect a widespread outbreak of the sort seen in Brazil and other countries. While officials have long predicted mosquitoes in the continental U.S. would begin spreading Zika this summer, they have also said they expect only isolated clusters of infections.

"I think eventually they will find something that will counteract the effects," added Jimmy's wife, Kim.

Not far away at UTMB, Galveston researchers are already testing FDA-approved drugs to see if they work against Zika. The team of researchers have discovered more than 20 prescription drugs ranging from some which treat cancer and malaria, to the anti-depressant Zoloft.

"It's doesn't guarantee that you're going to discover a cure, but in the shortest, narrowest window of time, drug re-purposing is often the only option," said Nicholas Barrows with UTMB Galveston.

No mosquitoes in Florida have actually been found to be carrying Zika, despite the testing of 19,000 by the state lab. But other methods of Zika transmission, such as travel to a stricken country or sex with an infected person, have been ruled out.

The four patients in Florida would be the first of the more than 1,650 U.S. Zika cases to have contracted the virus from a mosquito on the U.S. mainland.

"This is not just a Florida issue. It's a national issue - we just happen to be at the forefront," Scott said.

Some medical experts said pregnant women should not travel to the Miami area, especially if it involves spending time outdoors. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not recommending people avoid traveling to South Florida.

The virus is so mild that most people who are infected don't even know they are sick, but infection during pregnancy can cause babies to born with disastrously small heads and other severe brain-related defects.

The four Florida infections are thought to have occurred in a small area just north of downtown Miami, in the Wynwood arts district, Scott said.

The area, known for bold murals spray-painted across warehouses, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques, is rapidly gentrifying and has a number of construction sites where standing water can collect and serve as a breeding ground for the tropical mosquito that carries Zika.

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Two cases of Zika virus are now reported in the Houston area.

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The Zika virus is spreading rapidly, causing concern at the World Health Organization.

Zika primarily spreads through bites from tropical mosquitoes. In most people, the virus causes only mild illness, but infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects for the fetus.

Zika symptoms diagnosis and treatment from the CDC


  • About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).

  • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.

  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

  • Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people.

  • Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

  • Deaths are rare.


  • The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, diseases spread through the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika.

  • See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where Zika is found.

  • If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.

  • Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya.


  • No vaccine or medications are available to prevent or treat Zika infections.

Treat the symptoms:

    Get plenty of rest
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration

  • Take medicines, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain

  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen. Aspirin and NSAIDs should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage (bleeding). If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

  • If you have Zika, avoid mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.

  • During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
healthzika virusmosquitohealthcdcu.s. & worldbuzzworthyFlorida
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