Laguna Heights Receives Smaller Zika Efforts Than Brownsville

LAGUNA HEIGHTS, TX - In 2016, the first probable locally acquired case of Zika took place in Brownsville.  There was a full-scale effort, including people going door to door collecting urine samples in a designated area.

In 2017, the first probable locally acquired case of the year happened in Laguna Heights on October 5th. There was not a full-scale effort. We head out to the Cameron County Health Department to find out what happened and why.

“We pretty much did everything but on a much smaller scale,” says Cameron County Health Director Esmeralda Guajardo, “The main difference is that last year we went door to door for uranalysis.”

On October 5th The Cameron County confirms the first locally acquired probable case of Zika. The cause of transmission was determined to have likely come from mosquitos. The virus was discovered during testing at a public health clinic in the infected patient. By the time it was discovered, however, the patient had zika 2-3 months and was no longer active in her system. This was one of the first signs the case was not a major threat to the area.

“Had it been one of those cases where it was a potential risk… we would have done the same thing, gone door to door. But we wouldn’t have asked every single person,” says Guajardo.

The health director explains that their 2016 efforts and those seen in Florida yielded unsuccessful results tracking down the virus.  

After surveying Laguna Heights, county health officials determined the area was not a threat, thus not meriting a full-scale effort. Instead, they were prepared to sample only those with symptoms.  

Back in 2016, the Zika virus was relatively new to health experts nationwide. This health director tells us that the experience they had from Brownsville cases helped them stay focused on identifying potential cases.

Guajardo states, “Zika is new. That’s one of the things that we have learned along the process. We need to find what is going to work to identify individuals with high risk.”

On October 12, cool weather hit the Rio Grande Valley. While some believe that may keep mosquitos away, heavy downpours may bring them right back, possibly providing mosquitos with a place to live.

The health director asks the public to remain vigilant and protect against virus.


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