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Zika virus updates for North Texas

Updated 12/15/16

About 6% of U.S. completed pregnancies with laboratory evidence of possible recent Zika infection had a fetus or infant with evidence of a Zika-related birth defect, according to a study published online yesterday by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Of 442 completed pregnancies included in the study, 26 fetuses or infants had birth defects, including 18 (4%) with microcephaly. According to a separate study reported yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika virus can continue to replicate in infants’ brains even after birth. 

Texas now five cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus, none are pregnant women. The Department of State Health Services confirms the patients reported getting sick with Zika-like symptoms between Nov. 29 and Dec. 1 and were likely infected several days earlier before mosquito control efforts intensified in that part of Brownsville. The first patient was a Cameron County woman who is not pregnant and was confirmed last week by lab test to have been infected. She reported no recent travel to Mexico or anywhere else with ongoing Zika virus transmission and no other risk factors. Laboratory testing found genetic material from the Zika virus in the patient’s urine, but a blood test was negative, indicating that the virus can no longer be spread from her by a mosquito. There are no other cases of suspected local transmission at this time, but health officials continue to conduct disease surveillance activities as part of the state's ongoing Zika response. Through last week, Texas has had 274 confirmed cases of Zika virus disease. Until now, all cases had been associated with travel, including two infants born to women who had traveled during their pregnancy and two people who had sexual contact with infected travelers.

Updated 9/30/16

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance for pre-pregnancy counseling and preventing sexual transmission of Zika. The CDC now recommends men with possible Zika exposure but no symptoms wait at least six months before attempting pregnancy with their partner. As of Sept. 28, 59 locally-acquired and 3,566 travel-associated cases of the mosquito-borne virus were reported in the continental U.S. All of the locally-acquired cases were in Florida.

Updated 9/29/16

Dallas County Health and Human Services is reporting the 34th and 35th cases of Zika virus in Dallas County in 2016. The 34th case is a 43-year-old Dallas resident who was infected in Nicaragua; the 35th case is a 64-year-old Dallas resident who was infected in Guatemala.

Updated: 8/23/16

The number of cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus in the United States has climbed to 37. All have been identified in the Wynnewood and South Beach neighborhoods of Miami. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that many other states, especially "those along the Gulf Coast" could be at risk for an outbreak of locally transmitted Zika. He believes Texas and Louisiana will see locally-transmitted cases soon. Meanwhile, two clinical trials to develop a Zika vaccine are underway, but Dr. Fauci says the earliest a vaccine might be available is 2018.

In early August, the Centers for Disease Control released an updated interim plan for responding to locally acquired cases of Zika virus infection in the continental U.S. and Hawaii. CDC advises pregnant women to avoid non-essential travel to the area, and issued recommendations for women of reproductive age and their partners who live in or traveled to the area after June 15. The Department of Health and Human Services announced a $5.1 million contract to develop a faster blood test for Zika virus. 

Infectious disease specialist Edward A. Dominguez, MD, FACP, FIDSA, on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas, believes south Texas is more likely to see the first cases in the state. He said in a recent WFAA interview the larger concern for North Texas is West Nile, but individuals traveling to Zika-infected regions run the risk of infecting others back home.  

Texas has seen its first baby born infected with Zika virus and with the birth defect of microcephaly. Harris County officials confirmed the baby's mother was infected in Latin America and passed the virus to her baby in the womb. In June, officials said that ten pregnant women in Dallas County had "possible infection" with the virus. 

Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zachary Thompson announced ten pregnant women have tested positive for Zika virus after traveling to infected areas. Whether or not their unborn children will have birth defects is unknown at this time, but the county is accepting voluntary lab test requests (with appropriate approvals) from 12 counties. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services confirms there have been 59 positive reports of Zika virus, 58 were travelers infected abroad and diagnosed upon returning home, but one was a pregnant woman. 12 of those cases have actually bee diagnosed with the virus.

Dallas County Health and Human Services confirms eleven people have tested positive for the virus. The first patient acquired it through sexual contact from the second patient who returned from Venezuela, where there have been confirmed cases. All of the others traveled to Zika-infected areas, contracted the virus, then came back to the U.S. Tarrant County has seen seven cases, Collin County two, and Denton County two. 

In late June, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve $1.1 billion in emergency funding to prepare for and respond to the Zika virus. The bill diverts $750 million in existing funding for Ebola, Department of Health and Human Services administration and health care exchanges in the territories to fight Zika. The Senate is expected to take up the measure this week. Funding continues to be an issue in the fight against Zika in Texas, and infectious disease specialist Dr. Ed Dominguez, on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas, told The Dallas Morning News he supports the state's efforts. 

Now that mosquito season is upon us, health experts believe North Texas will see the mosquito that carries the Zika virus soon. So far, there have been no Zika cases that originated in the United States, but the CDC says 279 pregnant women, both U.S. residents and visitors, have been diagnosed with Zika. Another 189 cases have been reported in U.S. territories, mostly Puerto Rico. Three babies have been born with birth defects linked to the Zika virus in the U.S., and three more have been lost to miscarriages or aborted because of the birth defects, federal health officials said Thursday. On May 31, a mother from Honduras gave birth to a baby girl with microcephaly in New Jersey. The first baby born in the United States with microcephaly linked to Zika was in January when a woman gave birth in Hawaii after living in Brazil and contracting the virus last year. The World Health Organization recently urged people living in Zika affected areas to delay pregnancy to avoid having children with birth defects. This news affects millions of couples in 46 nations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new information  that Zika virus definitively causes microcephaly and other birth defects in newborns, and neurological conditions in adults. Now, much focus has shifted to the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Top health experts have urged the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Games because of the high risk of Zika infection, and several U.S. athletes and journalists have said they refuse to attend for the same reason. After mounting international pressure, Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization said it will now 'examine the risks of holding the Olympic Summer Games as currently scheduled'.


Frequently Asked Questions

Answers from Dr. Sofia Ansari and Dr. Ed Dominguez, who specialize in infectious diseases at Methodist Health System.

What is Zika virus?

Zika is a virus spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, which can breed in pools of water and typically bite during the day. The mosquitoes spreading the disease are the same ones that spread Chikungunya and dengue. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika or medicine to treat the infection. One patient in Dallas County had sexual contact with an infected individual who had recently visited Venezuela where the Zika virus was present.

What are the symptoms?

About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus get sick, and you’ll typically see symptoms about two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. For those infected, the symptoms are mild — fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). If you’ve traveled to the affected area in the past two to 14 days, contact your health care provider, especially if you are or think you may be pregnant.

What is the treatment?

Our doctors, nurses and clinicians are on alert and prepared for any patient who might exhibit symptoms. There is no cure for Zika virus, so they recommend supportive care. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration, and take acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain. Do not take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and if you’re taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your health care provider.

Zika Virus FAQ (continued)

Answers2 Your Zika Questions

Methodist Health System’s Answers2 blog follows the latest trends in healthcare, nutrition and exercise. Click here to learn more about the Zika virus, as well as our other topical blog posts.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has released a new comprehensive resource on Zika virus for clinicians and emergency response personnel. Zika: Resources at Your Fingertips includes an overview of the virus – its epidemiology, symptoms, where it is found and how it is transmitted – as well as considerations and resources for health care providers broken out by profession/facility. The guide will be updated as new information or guidance emerges. For the latest on Zika, visit www.cdc.gov/zika and www.aha.org/zika.


Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services Instructions for Zika Virus Testing

Zika Virus Testing Information

Learn more about the CDC's
findings on the Zika virus and protecting yourself and your family on Spring Break




What is Zika virus?

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Shantala Samart of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center talks to WFAA's Sonia Azad about the dangers of the Zika virus and what precautions should be taken. Watch the interview here. She was also on WFAA’s Daybreak Saturday to discuss travel concerns with the virus.

Taking Travel Precautions

As families make Spring Break plans, Dr. Samart advises precautions to take if traveling to a Zika-affected area. Watch her interview here with WFAA.


¿Cómo prevenir el virus del zika en el Norte de Texas?

Methodist infectious disease specialist Dr. Ed Dominguez gave an interview to Al Dia newspaper about what the Spanish-speaking public needs to know: Read more



First case of Zika virus in Dallas County was sexually transmitted

Methodist infectious disease specialist Dr. Ed Dominguez explains the various issues concerning this newly-confirmed method of Zika transmission. Click here to watch CBS 11's story. 



Lack of Zika virus treatment options

Methodist Dallas OBGYN Dr. Patricia LaRue discusses the lack of treatment options for the Zika virus with FOX 4, and what the options are for pregnant women who fear they may be infected. Watch the story here.


Pregnancy and Zika virus

Methodist Richardson infectious disease specialist Dr. Sofia Ansari talks to WFAA's Sonia Azad about the effects of the Zika virus on pregnant women. Click here to see the story.



Now with two Zika cases in Dallas County, how prepared should we all be?

It's the question many North Texans are asking. Methodist Richardson infectious disease specialist Dr. Sofia Ansari urges caution and awareness to CBS 11. Watch the story here.

Dr. Ansari also did a comprehensive interview with KRLD radio about pregnancy, testing and a potential vaccine, click here to listen.



Methodist Richardson hosts Zika forum

Methodist Richardson welcomed dozens of people from all across the DFW Metroplex for an educational forum on Thursday, Feb. 19 inside the Women’s Center lobby. OBGYNs Denisse Holcomb, MD and Carol Norton, MD joined infectious disease specialists Sofia Ansari, MD and Serge Lartchenko, MD to address the latest news coming from the CDC and to answer questions from the audience.

Click here to view our Zika virus forum. 


If you need help finding a physician, get the benefit of being treated by the only doctors in Dallas and the entire North Texas area that can participate in Methodist’s collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Get help at answers2.org.

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