There have been 12 cases of the Zika virus in Texas as the disease has swept across the world and become a source of international concern.
Texas had 12 travel-associated cases, and there were 82 across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the most highly affected area is Latin America.
The Aedes mosquito transmits the virus, which is causing alarm as it is suspected to be linked to microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.
The mosquitoes were first found to be transmitting the Zika virus in Uganda in 1947. Throughout the years, Zika outbreaks have been primarily in African and Asian countries. In May 2015, Brazil reported the Zika virus was being locally transmitted. This outbreak is what led the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency.
The CDC is urging people to reconsider their travel to infected areas, especially if they’re pregnant.
According to the Student Health Services website, in order for students to protect themselves from mosquitos, they should wear long sleeved clothing and use United States Environmental Protection Agency registered insect repellants.
Prior to February, there had only been three Zika cases linked to sex. Dallas County health officials announced the patient who had the virus contracted it by having sex with someone who had recently visited Venezuela. In one of the previous cases, the patient’s sperm had high levels of Zika 62 days after the virus had been contracted.
Connor Serres, marketing senior, was unaware of that Zika could be transmitted sexually, and said people should be aware so they can be prepared and safe.
“I hadn’t heard that Zika is being linked to sex now,” Serres said. “That’s crazy to me because this is news that should validate even more to people the importance of having safe sex. There are a lot of countries that you said are infected, and people travel to those countries a lot, so people need to be aware of who they are with and be safe about it.”
Research will continue on sex-related transmissions of the Zika virus and other possible forms of transmission, but the real enemies are mosquitoes, according to a CDC statement.
In Texas, there are two different types of the Aedes mosquito which could potentially transmit the virus. As of now, there have not been any cases of the virus being transmitted by local mosquitos.
Rodney E. Rohde, associate dean of research, said scientists are learning more on the Zika virus every day.
“There are new and interesting developments happening,” Rohde said. “This Zika story is unfolding more and more by day, if not the hour.”