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First Suspected Local Zika Case of 2017 Turns Up In South Texas

Wendy Rigby
Texas Public Radio
In November 2016, a Brownsville man sprays for mosquitos in his backyard after hearing news of locally-aquired cases of Zika in Cameron County.

***Updated at 4:00 p.m.

The first documented locally-acquired case of Zika in the continental U.S this year has been detected in Hidalgo County, at the southern tip of Texas. There's no indication this is the start of a large scale outbreak.


The threat of the Zika virus is still an issue in South Texas this summer.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says a person who lives in Hildalgo County which borders Mexico tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus.

That individual has not traveled outside the area, so health officials believe the person got the virus from the bite of an infected mosquito there.

State health department spokesman Chris Van Deusen says people who live in the Valley are more at risk for exposure to Zika than anyone else in Texas right now. 

"We have the travel back and forth to Mexico where they’ve continued to see cases in very large numbers, of course, and that’s really why we’ve been focusing on the Rio Grande Valley," Van Deusen said.

Since April, thousands of women in six Texas counties have been tested for Zika along with people exhibiting symptoms like rash, fever, joint pain and red eyes.

That expanded testing pinpointed this latest case. Van Deusen says so far, this is not any kind of outbreak. "Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that this has lead to any other Zika cases," he stressed.

Zika made headlines when it was linked to severe birth defects in babies born to infected mothers. Last year, Cameron County where Brownsville is located documented six locally-acquired Zika infections.


Wendy Rigby is a San Antonio native who has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. She spent two decades at KENS-TV covering health and medical news. Now, she brings her considerable background, experience and passion to Texas Public Radio.