By Perdita Henry
The concern over Zika is increasing at a steady pace as the summer continues. Every day news reports are alerting the public to another person being diagnosed with a virus that many have never heard of. The Texas Department of State and Health Services and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention want to make sure that physicians, and the public, have everything they need to stay up to date on the latest information regarding Zika.
Here's what we know. Several countries and U.S. territories are facing epidemics, pregnant women are a high-risk population due to the effect the virus has on fetuses, and it can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. While the number of Zika cases within the continental United States remains relatively low, infection rates remain limited to people who have traveled to Zika-affected regions, and there have been no reports of anyone contracting the virus through the U.S. mosquito populations, but this could change at any time. As media attention increases, summer progresses, and more people are diagnosed with the virus, the general public is becoming more aware of Zika and are heading to their physicians wondering if they are at risk. It doesn't help that there has been some confusion about when to test patients for the virus. DSHS and the CDC want you to know the recommendation for testing at this time is for patients who have traveled to Zika-affected areas.
Additionally, those who are working to increase awareness in the health care community are bringing more attention to the possibility of sexually transmitted Zika. Both health departments are stating that sexual transmission has the potential to become a larger problem than previously thought. The possibility of men infecting women — mostly due to the associated pregnancy risks — has all parties pushing to remind people that proper condom usage can reduce the chance of transmission. And while both organizations state that woman-to-man transmission is not likely they are remaining cautious. Just days ago the first woman-to-man Zika transmission was confirmed.
Keep yourself informed by visiting the CDC Zika Virus homepage where you'll find information on prevention, transmission, lab recommendations, frequently asked questions, additional resources and much more.
And keep track of the news close to home by visiting the DSHS website, TexasZika.org, where you'll find the latest educational materials, laboratory guidelines, and statics on the Texas infection rate.