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New Zika Outbreak Feared on Texas Border as Mosquito Season Approaches

Apr 24, 2017 06:05 AM EDT
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Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost tip of Texas, remains part of the state that's most at risk for Zika because of its proximity to Mexico and the presence of Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the region.
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

As temperatures rise, health professionals are warning people at the Rio Grande Valley to be more cautious and alert for a probable Zika outbreak.

Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost tip of Texas, remains part of the state that's most at risk for Zika because of its proximity to Mexico and the presence of Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the region.

Speaking with The Guardian, Patricia Pena, a health worker/activist, said the Rio Grande Valley is home to 1.3 million people, and despite Zika virus reaching the national television, most of them still lack comprehension of the disease.

"Even though there's been a lot of announcements on TV about it and how to protect yourself, families are still very naive when it comes to the information on Zika," said Pena.

The deprived neighborhood, according to her, is vulnerable to Zika as the unhealthy and filthy environment becomes a breeding site of mosquitoes. In addition, most of the houses are not mosquito-ready and have no window screens.

Fox News noted that Joseph McCormick, regional dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health, also expressed concern that the disease is "going to hit the poorest people."

PBS reported that based on the findings of Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC), Texas has the nation's fourth highest number of confirmed Zika cases. Last year, at least six Zika cases had been confirmed in Brownsville, Texas.

As mosquito season approaches, Texas is updating its Zika testing recommendations for Rio Grande Valley. Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) recently announced that testing all pregnant residents of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata counties in both the first and second trimesters of pregnancy is now urged. In addition, any resident who has Zika symptoms such as a rash plus at least one other common Zika symptom shall be tested for confirmation.

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