Seven cases of Zika virus — a mosquito-borne illness the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency — have been discovered in the Houston area.
According to KHOU.com, three of the patients are in the city of Houston, and four are in Harris County, which covers the greater Houston area. All of the patients have recently traveled to Latin America and experienced the flu-like symptoms associated with Zika. The four Harris County patients have fully recovered.
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that has been exploding in the Americas. The virus generally causes two to seven days of mild fever, rash, aches and red eyes. People infected with Zika may not know they’re infected, because they may not show symptoms. The virus is passed through the Aedes mosquito, and is not transmitted from person to person.
The virus is most troubling for pregnant women, as the virus is suspected to cause birth defects, including abnormally small heads in newborns. There is no known vaccine or treatment for the virus.
The first case in the Houston-area was confirmed in January; however, the patient first fell ill in November. An increase in Zika virus cases are expected to hit Texas by the spring, as the WHO estimates there will be three to four million Zika cases in the Americas next year.
The people who are at greatest risk of infection are those living in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. If you plan on traveling to those regions any time soon, bring some pants, long sleeve shirts and bug spray.