Updated 06:57 PM EDT, Thu, Oct 21, 2021

Texas Gets First Confirmed Case of Zika Virus from El Salvador Traveler

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Health authorities in Texas confirmed the first case of Zika virus in the United States, raising concern that the mosquito-borne disease that caused severe birth defects in Brazil could spread through the nation.

According to the Wall Street Journal, public health officials confirmed that the woman from Houston who recently travelled to El Salvador in November visited a doctor due to joint pain, muscle aches and a rash.

On Tuesday, Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services Department Executive Director Umair Shah told the media that the patient tested positive for Zika virus during a preliminary examination.

The most common symptoms of this mosquito-borne virus are similar to dengue and chikungunya, which include fever, joint pain, rash, or conjunctivitis, based on the official website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The site further noted that only 1 out of 5 people who catch this virus actually feel ill, and that there is still no reported deaths directly linked to the disease to date.

Despite this, medical professionals as cited by NBC New, still fear that the virus might still affect the infected individual, especially since there is no definitive treatment for the illness aside, from getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids and taking medication for the symptoms.

Dr. Peter Hotez, Baylor College of Medicine's dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, pointed out that the Zika virus may spread in the Gulf coast because the area houses two species of mosquitoes that can carry it: the Aedes aegyptus and the Aedes albopictus or the Asian tiger mosquito.

"I am quite worried about Zika taking off on the Gulf coast. We have both species of mosquito that can transmit the virus. There's the right level of poverty and the tropical climate," added Hotez who is also the firector of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

He then urged health authorities to be quick in acting on the matter because there is still very little known about the disease, which he deemed to be "unusual."

"This is such an unusual virus. It tends to produce low-level symptoms. You won't know you had a Zika outbreak until nine months later, when babies start being born with microcephaly," he added.

Previous reports linked the Zika virus to thousands of birth defects in Brazil where there have already been 4,000 cases of microcephaly -- a huge difference to the typical 150 annual average in the area.

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