Zika virus may not be in the headlines as much as it was a few months ago, but as summer approaches and people travel to and from the Olympics in Rio, it’s still causing real concern.
In Texas this year, 31 people have tested positive for the Zika virus. Now the kind of mosquito that transmits the Zika virus does exist here in Texas. So there is a chance that someone could infect the mosquitoes here and then there would be sort of Texas-originated Zika virus.
Certainly it’s a concern of ours. We know that we do have the type of mosquitoes that can transmit Zika. And so our, you know, the thing that we are really watching now is to see once we get in the mosquito season, as the weather heats up, mosquitoes become more active. If we continue to see those kinds of imported cases you talked about, there is certainly a risk that Texas mosquitoes could bite infected people and then be capable of transmitting the disease to other people.
Cuz I was reading, in the local newspaper just this morning on the front page that microcephaly rates tripled in Texas between 1999 and 2012. So do you understand why that’s happened?
We’ve not seen it here before the last, you know, four or five months.
Could we just go and look at the lab you got here, cuz you are trying to sort of increase your capacity to understand what’s happening in the States.
Yes, absolutely. So when it started, you know, we didn’t have the capability to do the testing in our lab here, but everything had to be sent to CDC in Colorado. And of course, they were doing the testing for the entire nation. And so it took some time to get those result.
Right, cuz I was just looking through the glass windows that were in a door and inside there is a lab. And I can see a young woman that who was, I think, quite cautious of her work, by the looks of it and sort of doing something inside the cabinet with her hands sticking into the cabinet. So it’s all about not getting infected and being cautious. As you look ahead and you know what this has done in central America, south America, are you worried this problem is going to Texas?
You know, it’s certainly a question mark in this point. There’s still so much that we don’t know about Zika and the implications for pregnant women and their unborn children. What about women who are pregnant who may have been exposed but don’t get symptoms? Are they capable of transmitting the virus and what are the effects on their unborn children?
So there’s still a lot of research to be done. But we are not taking any chances. We really want people to protect themselves from mosquito bites particularly when they are traveling and after they’ve returned and again, to interrupt this transmission from person to mosquito to person.