AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Texas health officials are reporting the first case of the Zika virus that was likely transmitted within the state.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday the patient is a resident of Cameron County, located on the border the state shares with Mexico.
Health officials said she is not pregnant and reports no recent travel to Mexico or anywhere else with ongoing Zika transmission.
The case was confirmed last week by a lab test. Officials say testing indicates the virus can no longer be spread from her by mosquitoes.
“We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “We still don’t believe the virus will become widespread in Texas, but there could be more cases, so people need to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially in parts of the state that stay relatively warm in the fall and winter.”
Cameron County, DSHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they are working together to investigate and respond to the case. Further investigation will be necessary in order to pinpoint how and where the infection occurred, according to the DCHS news release.
With DSHS support, Cameron County and the City of Brownsville have conducted an environmental assessment at the patient’s home and have been trapping and testing mosquitoes to learn more about activity in the area.
Brownsville has recently sprayed for mosquitoes in the area and will continue to take action to reduce the mosquito population.
Health workers from Cameron County and DSHS will be going door to door in the area around where the case lived beginning this evening to educate the public about Zika, help people reduce potential mosquito breeding habitat on their property, and collect voluntary urine samples to determine whether other infections are present.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced Monday it is reinstating the Medicaid benefit for mosquito repellent due to this first reported case of Zika virus disease likely transmitted by a mosquito in Texas.
According to a news release, the state quickly made the decision to bring back the benefit, which had ended Oct. 31, given the possibility of local transmission and risk of Zika in the local community.
The benefit begins Tuesday, November 29 and will be in place through December, as the state collects more information about the case and scope of transmission in Texas.
“We will do all that we can to protect Texans and slow the spread of the Zika virus,” said HHSC Executive Commissioner Charles Smith. “Insect repellent is the best way to protect yourself, and we want it to be widely available.”
Eligible Texas women can go to participating pharmacies to pick up mosquito repellent, as Texas Medicaid has a standing order for mosquito repellent prescriptions for women who are between the ages of 10 and 45 or pregnant.
The benefit includes two cans per month per eligible beneficiary. Women are encouraged to call the pharmacy ahead of time because supply can vary by location.
Women eligible for the Medicaid, CHIP and CHIP-Perinate programs are covered. Women covered under the Healthy Texas Women and Children with Special Health Care Needs programs also can receive the benefit.
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