Preparing for Zika in Texas | Texas Public Radio

Preparing for Zika in Texas

This year more than 100 Texans have become infected with Zika, a virus that can cause severe deformities in unborn babies, and there’s concern that number could rise exponentially. What should young couples, pregnant or considering pregnancy, do?  How are public officials monitoring the mosquito population that transmits Zika? How would Texas respond to an outbreak, and what can we personally do to protect our families and communities?

On this page you'll find a series of news reports and community conversations that seek to educate the public about how we’re “Preparing for Zika in Texas.”

    Just below you'll find facts about Zika, resources, news reports and a map of Zika In Texas. Hover over each county to see how many cases have been reported so far.

    Zika FAQs

    What is Zika?

    Where did Zika come from?

    How is Zika spread?

    How will I know if I’m infected?

    Is there a treatment or a vaccine?

    Is the South Texas blood supply being tested for Zika?

    What can South Texans do to protect themselves from Zika?

    I’m pregnant. What should I do to protect myself and my baby?

    I’m planning on getting pregnant. Do I need to postpone having a baby?

    Are there local or state resources I can use to help educate and protect myself and my family?

    What type of mosquito spreads Zika?

    Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

    It’s a big week in Texas. Starting today, more than 600 new laws approved by state legislators and signed by Governor Greg Abbott go into effect.

    Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

    The state health department has issued a new health alert involving the Zika virus for three more South Texas Counties.

    Kinney, Maverick and Val Verde counties along the border with Mexico have been added to 6 others where there’s now routing screening of pregnant women for Zika. Del Rio is the county seat of Val Verde.

    Zika is a mosquito-borne virus which can affect babies of infected mothers. It first appeared in Cameron County last year.

    Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

    ***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.

    Shelley Kofler / Texas Public Radio

    Mosquitoes aren’t just pests. They are health threats, too.

    With the possibility of the mosquito-spread Zika virus and other diseases hovering over South Texas, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District is giving away free mosquito prevention tools.


    Mosquito dunks to kill larvae in standing water and mosquito repellents are being given away on a first come, first served basis at 14 clinics around the city. 

    Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

    Texas health officials say we’re better prepared this year than last to protect against the Zika virus and the mosquitos that spread it, but additional federal money would help. 

    Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

    Mosquito season is upon us, made more concerning this year by the spread of the Zika virus to the Rio Grande Valley. The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District is fighting the battle against mosquitoes on many fronts.

    Trucks that send out fogs of insecticides at night. Backpack sprayers where chemicals are placed precisely where mosquitoes breed. These are some of the tactics employed by vector control.

    Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

    The Zika virus continues to make headlines after it crept into the U.S., first in Florida and then here in Texas in the city of Brownsville. The mosquito-borne virus can cause devastating birth defects. Now the March of Dimes is making a big push to educate people as the spring mosquito season approaches.

    Texas Public Radio's Bioscience-Medicine reporter, Wendy Rigby, talked to San Antonio pediatrician Dr. Lawrence O’Brien. Here is a transcript of the interview.

    Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

    The Texas Department of State Health Services is expanding its recommendation for who needs to be tested for the Zika virus.

    As the weather warms and mosquitoes are more plentiful, state health officials are casting a wider net to detect pregnant women who may be infected with the Zika virus.

    Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

    A Bexar County woman is the first pregnant woman in Texas who acquired the Zika virus without traveling outside the state.

    The Texas Department of State Health Services says the expectant mother traveled to Brownsville in November.

    That’s right around the time six Brownsville residents were diagnosed with Zika from local mosquitoes.

    Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

    Now that Brownsville has confirmed local cases of Zika , the federal government is sending more money to the Texas to help control further spread of the virus.

    The Centers for Disease Control has awarded Texas a five million dollar grant. That money will be used to combat Zika in the Lone Star State. The grant is for Public Preparedness and Response.