HOUSTON — A woman who returned to the Houston area in Texas after a trip to El Salvador in November has a confirmed case of the Zika virus, Reuters reported, citing officials in Harris County.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there have been 22 cases of the disease among returning U.S. travelers since 2007. Zika is transmitted by the Aedes genus of mosquito, which can also carry the dengue and chikungunya viruses. Zika causes a mild disease with fever, rash and joint pain. It is rarely fatal and can be cured with bed rest and liquids.
An epidemic of the Zika virus in Brazil, however, has prompted health officials to investigate thousand of cases of microcephaly in the country. Since microcephaly is usually a rare condition, health officials have suggested a link between the virus and the disease that causes an abnormally small head size and incomplete brain development.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Brazilian authorities estimate that 500,000 to 1.5 million people have been infected by the Zika virus in the country. In December, Puerto Rico confirmed its first locally acquired case of Zika virus, suggesting that the virus might be circulating there.
U.S. officials say they are preparing for a growing number of Zika cases in the spring and summer, when the weather creates ideal breeding conditions for the mosquitoes that carry the virus.
Outbreaks of the virus have also occurred in the past in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
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