Special to the Journal
Bell County Public Health District has confirmed a travel-related case of Zika virus in Bell County. The male traveler was infected with the virus while in a known Zika region outside of the United States. There is no evidence of local transmissions. This is the first confirmed case in Bell County, and the 60th case of travel-associated Zika in Texas. All cases reported, including this case, were acquired internationally.
While there is currently no reason to believe any mosquitoes are affected, the Bell County epidemiologist and preparedness team is conducting mosquito surveillance and providing public health education information. Those planning travel to regions where Zika is active should watch for symptoms associated with mosquito-borne diseases, and seek medical attention should they experience symptoms.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease is uncommon. Zika virus has been linked to birth defects and neurological symptoms. Individuals with symptoms should see a healthcare provider if they visited an area where Zika virus is present or had sexual contact with a person who traveled to an area where Zika virus is present. While sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible, it is primarily transmitted to people by the Aedes species mosquitoes.
Residents should continue to take proper precautions to reduce their risk of acquiring Zika virus while traveling, and to observe the same precautions while home:
•Drain standing water around their homes to reduce mosquito breeding grounds. Consider use of BTI briquettes (or mosquito dunks) in water that cannot be drained, such as small ponds and drinking troughs.
•Be aware of mosquitoes during times that they are active, Dawn, Daytime, Dusk and evening hours.
•Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) to exposed skin and to clothing when outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends Picaridin (KBR 3023).
•Dress in pants and long sleeves when outside and/or wear permethrin-treated clothing.
Please visit the Bell County Public Health District website www.bellcountyhealth.org for more information.