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Has the Zika Virus Come to the U.S.?

With the recent announcement of a new case of the Zika virus in Florida, Sonia Azad with WFAA Channel 8 News turned to infectious disease expert Dr. Edward Dominguez of The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas for more information on prevention and protection.

What’s New?

More than 1300 cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed within the U.S. Until now, all of these patients were infected abroad or through sexual contact. While not certain yet, the Florida Health Department and the CDC are working together to determine if this patient contracted the disease through a sexual partner in Miami or from a mosquito within the continental U.S.
Dallas County has now reported its 16th case of the Zika virus, with this case contracted from traveling to Mexico. Experts agree that this virus is one we all need to take seriously. Mosquito control companies across North Texas have seen a rise in business as concerned citizens take extra precautions to protect themselves and their communities.

How Can This Affect Me?

Dr. Dominguez predicts that the Zika virus is more likely to occur in localized pockets versus creating a widespread outbreak. The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus tend to travel in short distances, less than a mile away. This makes them much more likely to infect people within that area from person to person to person. While only 20% of Zika infected patients ever get sick, Dr. Dominguez stresses that, if you travel to an infected area, not having symptoms does not mean you don’t have Zika.

How Do I Protect Myself?

Dr. Dominguez also urges everyone to use a repellent with DEET and to avoid mosquitos to prevent unknowingly transferring Zika. If you have the Zika virus, it is important to not allow yourself to be bitten by a mosquito, causing potential transfer of the disease. When traveling to any Zika affected country, doctors suggest providing yourself extra mosquito protection for up to four weeks as well as avoiding unprotected sexual contact for at least three months.

Need More Info?

Find more information on the Zika virus and other infectious diseases through The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas. Watch the full Channel 8 news segment from the Methodist Health System here.