Dallas health officials announced they have a patient who was infected by the Zika Virus after having sexual contact with another infected person.
Prior to Tuesday, researchers reported Zika could only be transmitted by a mosquito bite. Tuesday, a Dallas County Health and Human Services said the Centers for Disease Control confirmed someone right here in Texas was infected through sexual transmission.
Researchers are now backtracking, and admit there are several ways Zika can be transmitted.
“Every new case that we see raises that concern a little bit that the risk may be higher than we recognized,” said Dr. Scott Weaver, the Director of the Institute of Human Infections and Immunity at UTMB.
The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a public health emergency on Monday.
“I think it's a little bit surprising that the first traveler to transmit in this manner happened right here in Texas,” said Weaver. “We still don't know what the total risk is because we don't know how many infected men are returning from these areas where the transmission is ongoing.”
According to Weaver, Tuesday’s news does not come as a surprise
“There was evidence several years ago of sexual transmission when a scientist was working in West Africa and returned to Colorado and his wife became infected a few days later.”
Weaver said they are receiving hundreds of calls from concerned Texans and those who are travelling to the countries affected by the virus.
“I don't want people to panic to thinking that what they're seeing in Brazil is going to be occurring here in the U.S.”
But much of that panic is coming from expecting mothers who are travelling, because according to Weaver, they have reason to believe the growing condition Microcephaly is linked to Zika.
“We have been able to identify the presence of the virus and examine some of the fetuses and babies that have been born with Microcephaly and died soon there after.”
Weaver said it is possible Zika can be transmitted orally, but they are gathering as much information as they can at their facility in Galveston to cure the virus and prevent it from spreading in the state.
He added the best way to prevent getting the virus is to protect yourself from mosquitos if you are traveling to a country that has the virus, and to get screened as soon as you return.