Zika — caused due to disease carrying mosquitoes — is expected to rear its ugly head once again in Texas. Places with plenty of mosquito growth are the worst impacted when it comes to the disease’s outbreak.
In 2016, Texas was the worst hit state in the country. Numerous Zika cases occurred in the Rio-Grande Valley and health officials are worried that with the approaching monsoons, the virus outbreak could make a comeback.
Why The Texas Border Areas Face Greater Risk
The people living in the Rio-Grande Valley mostly come from a poor socio-economic background. The population is largely unable to afford mosquito prevention methods like window screens and air-conditioning. They also lack proper means to dispose off their garbage, which leads to mosquito infestations.
The region also has dense grass coverage along with stagnant water bodies. Therefore, the region is more susceptible to disease spreading Zika mosquitoes, which cause abnormal births in pregnant mothers.
“It’s going to hit the poorest people. People that live in areas where mosquitoes are going to breed, areas where they have poor housing, just like it is in South America,” Joseph McCormick, regional dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health, told The Guardian.
Zika Virus: How Badly Is Texas Impacted?
Within the first four months of the year, the disease has managed to affect 10 people from the state. In 2016 and 2015, 320 Texans were diagnosed with Zika. The CDC declared the city of Brownsville a Zika “cautionary area” after the first case of local infection was noted in November 2016. As a precautionary step, pregnant women were advised to stay away from the area to avoid birth defects associated with the disease.
During November and December 2016, the local transmission of Zika led to six more confirmed cases in Brownsville.
Earlier in April, the Texas Department of State Health Services recommended Zika testing for all pregnant women in six of the state’s counties, including Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Willacy, Webb, and Zapata.
Challenges For Zika Detection And Treatment
Texas’ proximity to Mexico, which is suffering from a severe Zika outbreak, implies that the disease easily spreads in the region. Illegal immigration and cross border travel make it difficult for health officials to track the virus.
To make matters worse, people residing in the neighborhood usually do not have any health insurance. Moreover, the lack of public hospitals in the region also makes treatment difficult.
Doctors assert that additional research needs to be conducted to gain a better insight into how the disease is transmitted, as well as to find vaccines and medication for the disease.
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