Texas' first baby with Zika-related Microcephaly born in Houston
HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Harris County Public Health confirmed a baby boy born in Houston is the first in Texas with the Zika-related disease microcephaly.
During a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director of HCPH, said the mother spent the early part of the pregnancy in Colombia, then traveled to Harris County during her final trimester. That's where the baby was born several weeks ago. Doctors immediately knew something was wrong.
"The doctors delivered a child with a smaller head, which is the definition of microcephaly," explained Dr. Shah.
Currently, Dr. Shah says there is no publicly-available vaccine nor mediation to treat Zika or microcephaly, the Zika-related disease that causes babies to be born with small heads and underdeveloped brains.
Infectious disease experts told FOX 26 News that prevention measures are the only way to keep more babies from meeting the same fate.
"You need to be practicing mosquito precautions," warned Dr. Luis Ostrosky of University of Texas Health and Memorial Hermann Hospital.
"If you are engaging in sexual activity, you need to be wearing a condom because there is sexual transmission of this virus," reminded Dr. Ostrosky. "Upon your return, you need to be monitoring yourself for fevers, muscle aches, rashes -- if you have one of those, seek medical attention."
Harris County medical professionals say the case in Texas is travel-related. Dr. Shah emphasized no mosquitoes in Harris County have tested positive for Zika and heavy rains throughout the spring season helped wash away mosquito larvae and slow the start of mosquito season.
But it's now that time of year. Doctors continue to emphasize it's not a matter of if, but when the virus will show up in the local mosquito population.
"Sooner or later, somebody who is going to be coming from an infected Zika area might have the virus in him or her," said Mustapha Debon from the Harris County Public Health Mosquito Control division. "One of the mosquitos will pick up the virus from that person, and transmit it to another person. That's when we'll have local transmission."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday a low risk of Zika outbreaks from travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, but Houston-based experts emphasize that doesn't mean travelers should let down their guard.
Advice from HCPH included wearing repellent with DEET, sporting long sleeves and pants, and staying at hotels with screened windows, well-sealed doorways and air conditioning.
Neither the baby born in Houston with microcephaly nor his mother are considered infectious. Further details on their condition were not provided for the sake of their privacy.
There was no word of imminent risk to the community, but doctors did ask that all Houston-area residents continue to wear repellants and check their yards for standing water.
Women who have traveled to Zika-infected areas should talk with their health care provider if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant within the weeks following their travels. Men should abstain from sexual contact for six months if they have traveled to a Zika-infected area or had sexual contact with someone who has.
For more information in Zika virus in Houston, visit http://publichealth.harriscountytx.gov/Resources/2016-Zika-Virus.
For additional information on Zika virus and the 2016 Summer Olympics, visit http://www.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/2016-summer-olympics-rio.