Brazos County confirms first case of Zika virus

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BRYAN - The Brazos County Health Department confirmed its first case of Zika this week.

News 3 first broke that story Wednesday morning and covered a press conference in the afternoon to see what health officials current level of concern is.

A potentially dangerous virus has now impacted a woman in the Bryan / College Station area.

"Tests did confirm that she is infected with Zika virus," said Dr. Seth Sullivan, Alternate Health Authority for the Brazos County Health Department.

Wednesday afternoon the Brazos County Health Department updated us about their first case of Zika.

The woman traveled out of the country to an area with mosquitoes carrying the virus and tested positive back home in the Brazos Valley.

Dr. Seth Sullivan says the Brazos County Health Department remains concerned.

"As a public health institution we've always been concerned about this, we remain concerned about this virus. I think that most public health experts would agree that's it's really a matter of time before we see more cases of Zika virus here... It's a concern that in coming mosquito seasons that we'll see transmission here in the United States," he said.

The most common symptoms for Zika include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes while other people have also gotten headaches and muscle pain. They usually show up three to ten days after exposure.

"So the basic education message is that we just want to make sure that people prevent getting bit from mosquitoes," Sara Mendez, Brazos County Health Department Health Education and Promotion Director.

No mosquitoes with Zika virus have tested positive in Brazos County but the department is tracking mosquitoes to see if they start carrying the virus. Zika can cause major birth defects including microcephaly. It's a condition where babies have abnormally small heads and brains.

Mosquitoes can pick up the virus from an infected person and not everyone shows symptoms.

"That first week is when we would really be concerned about a lot of mosquitoes picking up the virus and transmitting them elsewhere," said Sullivan.

The CDC has confirmed more than 1,400 cases of Zika virus in the United States.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center has an in depth look at Zika.

We have those materials attached in this story online.

*Previous Story*

The Brazos County Health Department received test results confirming the first case of travel-associated Zika virus infection (Zika) in Brazos County.

The infected person recently returned from traveling to an area with on-going Zika transmission by mosquitoes. Officials with BCHD have not found evidence of Zika-infected mosquitoes in the local area at this time.

Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. Common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

However, Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus and has been linked to microcephaly and other birth defects in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant.

The Brazos County Health Department and CDC recommend that pregnant women not travel to areas where Zika virus is spreading. CDC maintains a list and map of the affected countries. Zika also can be spread during sex (by both males and females). Anyone concerned about getting Zika from sex can use condoms the right way every time they have vaginal, anal or oral sex or can practice abstinence.

Zika is only one of several diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes. Reducing the number of places where mosquitoes lay eggs—containers of standing water—can lower the risk of exposure.
The Brazos County Health Department and CDC suggest people take these steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites:

· Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites.

· Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.

· Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

· Zika virus can pass during vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom.

For additional information about Zika, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika or www.brazoshealth.org.