By Pete Banda
The community went into somewhat of a panic earlier this week when it was confirmed that the first case of travel related Zika had been confirmed in Cameron County. According to a press release from the Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services, a 26-year-old pregnant woman from San Benito contracted the virus after several trips to Mexico. The identity of the woman could not be released due to privacy reasons, but administrators confirmed that mosquito spraying was concentrated in the northwest side of San Benito. While just hearing the word Zika frightens most people, doctors advise that, for the most part, Zika is not as serious as many make it out to be.
Dr. James Castillo advised that while pregnant women should be wary of the virus, as 10-20% of fetuses could be affected by Zika, most people will not see complications if infected.
“What we see with Zika is that infected people will show very little and some time no symptoms at all,” he said. “Of course with pregnant women, our radar will be up and we will try to test for it, but for most people, Zika will not be too much of a problem.”
Dr. Castillo would add that infected people could only spread the virus through mosquitoes for up to two weeks. And even then, it takes a mosquito 10 days to be able to spread that virus to other humans, which is a big portion of the three week lifespan that mosquitoes have. According to Castillo, the confirmed case is not something unexpected, and more cases are expected to follow.
“I would not be surprised if we started having locally acquired cases within the coming months because everywhere that this mosquito lives, there will be cases and every country in the Western hemisphere now has the Zika virus,” said Castillo. “I believe we will be dealing with Zika for many years to come and I think at this point, the name of tha game is prevention. People should really invest in mosquito repellant and definitely wear long sleeve shirts when the climate permits.”
According to Castillo, once you have been infected with the virus, it will be gone within two weeks. Someone who has been infected once will become immune to the virus, which is how he believes the virus will eventually burn itself out.