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Zika in Texas

Zika is in Texas. Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus once it is contracted. While being bitten by an infected mosquito is the most common way to contract Zika, the virus can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy, via blood transfusions and through sexual contact. Since Zika is primarily spread via mosquito bites, your best protection to avoid infection is to prevent mosquito breeding and protect yourself from mosquito bites.
At last check (Sept. 21, a.d.2016), there have been 195 reported cases of Zika in Texas. And of those, 36 have been in the following Central Texas Conference counties.
     Bell 6
     Ellis 1
     Hamilton 1
     Palo Pinto 1
     Tarrant 21
     Williamson 6





Outbreaks of Zika are occurring in many countries and most Texas cases of Zika are related to travel. People were infected while visiting areas where Zika is being spread and then diagnosed after returning home. In response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel notices for people traveling to areas where Zika is being spread. As such, if you are planning a mission trip outside the U.S. – especially to Central America, Brazil or the Caribbean, please read the travel notices carefully.
Please note that the CDC strongly recommends that women and men who are actively trying to get pregnant and women who are pregnant women should postpone travel to areas affected by Zika.
If you are travelling outside of the U.S. the Texas Department of State Health Services recommends the following to help prevent:
During Your Trip
Travelers to areas affected by Zika should avoid mosquito exposure.
  • Use EPA-approved insect repellent for the entirety of your trip - even as you get on the plane in the U.S. because you'll want it as soon as you get off the plane in your destination. When used as directed, these insect repellents – including those that contain DEET – are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Wear pants and long-sleeve shirts.
  • Use screens or close windows and doors at hotel rooms or places you’re staying.
  • Take precautions against sexual transmission.
  • Consider abstaining from sex or use condoms correctly.
After Your Trip
All travelers returning to Texas from areas affected by Zika should avoid mosquito bites for 21 days following their return or following the onset of illness.
  • Call your doctor if you have concerns.
  • Use EPA-approved insect repellent for 21 days after you return to the United States. When used as directed, these insect repellents – including those that contain DEET – are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Take precautions against sexual transmission for at least eight weeks.
  • Consider abstaining from sex or use condoms correctly.
The state of Texas is being very proactive in its response to Zika, making every attempt to get out ahead of this disease and prevent its spread before it can become an overwhelming problem. One of the ways it is doing that is by calling on churches and other organizations that touch a large swath of the local communities throughout the state to share the most up-to-date information and prevention tips found on www.TexasZika.org. TexasZika.org is a very comprehensive and easy to navigate site that is updated daily and available in English and Spanish.
Besides the latest info, stats and tips, TexasZika.org also features a robust section of materials available to help local churches share how to prevent the spread of Zika – including Fact Sheets, Push Cards, Posters, video and radio PSAs, website and social media graphics and door hangers. All the materials are available in both Spanish and English. Visit TexasZika.org/materials to see all of the site’s offerings and how to order. Here are a few information highlights from the site.
  • Most people infected with the virus have mild or no symptoms.
    • For those who do develop symptoms, illness is generally mild and typically lasts a few days to a week.
    • The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
  • While severe symptoms requiring hospitalization are uncommon and fatalities are rare, this disease should not be taken lightly.
    • An increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome was noted during an outbreak of Zika virus in French Polynesia in 2014.
    • An increase in microcephaly  - a birth condition where an infant’s head is much smaller than expected - was noted during an outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil in 2015.
  • Mosquito bites aren’t the only way Zika can spread.
    • Zika can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy, via blood transfusions and through sexual contact.
    • According to Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner, Texas Department of Health, the virus can remain active in the blood stream for up to 10 days. However, it remains active in men’s seminal fluid for months if not longer. During that time, the disease can be spread from partner to partner via sexual contact and to the baby should pregnancy occur.
  • Not all mosquito types transmit the Zika virus.
    • It is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito (A. aegypti and possibly A. albopictus).
    • These mosquitoes are mainly found in South Texas and along the Texas coast, but are also present in other parts of Texas, especially urban environments. North Texas is a hot spot.
    • They typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases.
    • They live indoors and outdoors.
For much more on Zika and, more importantly the simple steps you can take to help prevent its spread here at home, visit TexasZika.org or contact your physician. While the CTC Center for Mission Support is happy to help you and your local church share the available information to your church and community, they are not Zika experts. Please do not contact them with questions specific to the disease, cause or treatment of the Zika virus.