There could be Zika cases in Texas we missed this year, according to experts in the state. That became clearer after health officials closely monitored a small area in South Texas earlier this month and found several additional cases of locally-transmitted Zika.
A couple weeks ago, Cameron County reported the first-known locally-transmitted case of Zika in Texas.
Zika is a mosquito-borne illness known to cause fetal brain abnormalities in pregnant women. It’s been a serious problem in Latin America—and when it showed up in South Texas health officials started knocking on doors.
“There was a testing component of that. We did collective urine specimens from people. It was an eight block area – sort of in the general area of that first case,” said Chris Van Deusen with the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Van Deusen says this work helped identify four more cases of locally-transmitted Zika there.
“What really lead to the identification of these cases was the educational portion of it,” he explained. “So, going door to door and talking to people about Zika and telling them what the symptoms and asking them to contact the health department if they experienced any of those symptoms.”
There’s a term for what health officials did in Cameron County. It’s called “human monitoring.” When there’s a threat of an infectious disease spread by mosquitoes, public health officials have a couple of tools they can use.