HOUSTON (KTRK) --Texas has confirmed that an infant who recently died in Harris County had microcephaly linked to the Zika virus. The baby passed away shortly after birth and is the first Zika-related death reported in Texas.
During her pregnancy, the mother was in Latin America, where she was infected, and the baby acquired the infection in the womb. Recent test results confirmed the baby's condition and link to Zika. The mother and baby are classified as travel-related cases, and there is no additional associated risk in Texas.
Last month Texas reported the state's first case of microcephaly linked to Zika, also a Harris County infant.
"Zika's impact on unborn babies can be tragic, and our hearts are with this family," said Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner. "Our central mission from the beginning has been to do everything we can to protect unborn babies from the devastating effects of Zika."
DSHS is coordinating with Harris County Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to follow the cases.
Texas has reported 97 cases of Zika virus disease, including the two infants with microcephaly from Harris County. All Texas cases are related to travel abroad to areas with active Zika transmission. There have been no reported cases of Zika virus disease transmitted by mosquitoes in Texas, but Texas is on alert for the possibility local transmission.
There are 28 Zika cases in Harris County and Houston. Officials say they will activate the county's emergency operations center if a local mosquito tests positive for the disease.
With its link to microcephaly, Zika poses a serious threat to unborn children. DSHS is tracking the number of pregnant women with Zika in the state, working with providers and reporting weekly data to the national Zika pregnancy registry. DSHS is studying past microcephaly data to understand the prevalence and patterns of this condition in Texas.
DSHS has been emphasizing precautions, specifically for travelers and pregnant women, through an ongoing public education campaign and via www.TexasZika.org.
Common symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the CDC. Approximately one in five people infected with the virus show symptoms. Severe complications from the virus that require hospitalization are rare, according to the CDC.
The virus has been associated with a rise of microcephaly, a type of birth defect. It has affected more than 4,000 babies in Brazil.
Health officials discourage pregnant women from traveling to Central or South America. If you must, they suggest wearing clothing and bug spray. They are also urging you to eliminate any standing water around your home or workplace in order to limit the number of places in which mosquitoes can breed.
They say the specific type of mosquitos that carry the disease are difficult to spray for.
"They stay low to the ground, oftentimes bites you in your feet, your legs," explained Dr. Umair A. Shah, the executive director of Harris County Public Health. "This is a mosquito that likes to take multiple meals. It loves humans, so if it sees a dog or a cat nearby, it'll go to the human."
Doctors at Texas Children's Hospital are encouraging expectant mothers who think they may have symptoms of the virus to come in for an examination. Experts say the best line of defense right now is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. For pregnant women, there are a few sprays on the market that do not contain DEET, including Buzz Away Extreme, SkeeterScreen and BugBand.
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.
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