Tarrant County Public Health confirmed Monday that a 17th individual has contracted Zika while abroad, but health officials have not identified any mosquitoes carrying the virus in the county.
According to the TCPH press release, the person who contracted Zika traveled to Costa Rica, where Zika is locally transmitted. No further information about the patient can be released for privacy concerns, they said.
Common Zika transmission hotbeds include regions in South and Central America, Africa, the Caribbean and now the state of Florida, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Our healthcare providers are on alert for Zika virus and [are] paying close attention to patients with recent travel to Florida and countries with local transmission of the disease,” Vinny Taneja, the director of TCPH, wrote in an email.
Zika is contracted either through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito or through sexual transmission, according to the press release.
The CDC website reports that a pregnant mother can pass the virus on to her infant, causing birth defects such as microcephaly, a severe brain defect in which the infant is born with a small head.
Meredith Richards, a Sunset Heights resident who visited Overton Park on Thursday, said she was concerned during her pregnancy but feels assured now that her daughter is five weeks old.
In one in five infected adults, Zika virus causes mild illness lasting a few days to a week before it leaves the body. There is no vaccine for the virus.
Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes, according to a fact sheet from TCPH.
TCPH advises county residents to take preventative measures such as using EPA-registered insect repellent and wearing protective clothing, especially during the day when the Aedes species mosquito is most active.
Park Hill Neighborhood Association head Mark Allsup said he takes these preventative measures.
“I try to make sure I don’t have standing water and spray occasionally,” Allsup said.
Richard Hunt, an employee at a local grocery store, said he thinks the city should increase its budget to help fight Zika.
“You know I got kids, and I would hate for them to fall victim to it,” Hunt said.
TCPH offers a Zika Hotline residents can call to learn more about the virus at 817-248-6299.