TIME public health

Zika Virus Confirmed in Houston

A researcher looks at Aedes aegypti mosquitoes kept in a container at a lab of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the Sao Paulo University, on January 8, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal are in Brazil to train local researchers to combat Zika virus epidemic. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDANELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images
Nelson Almeida—AFP/Getty Images A researcher looks at Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, capable of spreading the Zika virus, at a lab in the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Jan. 8, 2016.

The mosquito-borne virus is linked to birth defects

The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed a case of the Zika virus in Houston, but luckily for Texans, it was acquired while the patient was traveling outside the country.

The mosquito-borne virus produces symptoms like headaches, fever and rashes in adults, but is not thought to be fatal, the Houston Chronicle reports. However, its prevalence in Brazil is thought to have led to a spike in the birth defect microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with very small heads. It has also been linked with Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the body’s immune system attacks its nerves, although the connection to both diseases is still being explored. Health officials hope to develop a vaccine for the virus.

While officials in Texas did not reveal where the patient had been traveling, they did say the disease was picked up over the holidays. There is not currently any threat of the disease in the continental U.S., but travelers to Latin America and the Caribbean—particularly pregnant women—have been urged to use mosquito repellant and exercise caution. The CDC confirmed a case in Puerto Rico in December. The patient there had no travel history, meaning mosquitos carried the virus locally.

[Houston Chronicle]

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