Dallas County Prepares For Zika Virus

During a briefing Monday, Dallas County public health officials updated their plans for the arrival of the Zika virus.

To date, six human cases have the virus have been reported in Dallas County.

Five of the cases involve people who traveled to countries affected by Zika.

The sixth person received the illness from a sexual partner.

The Dallas County Public Health Lab is responsible for 12 counties and has completed more than 200 specimen analysis, including several which have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control.

Several pregnant women have been tested for the possibility of Zika, but health officials declined to elaborate.

"Mosquito season hasn't officially started and if we've already processed over 200 specimens in our lab, that number could just continue to grow and quite frankly be outragous," says Erikka Neroes, public information officer for Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Symptoms related to Zika are rarely severe, but researchers have found a link between Zika and serious birth defects, including microcephaly.

The county will use mosquito traps designed to catch the aedes aegypti mosquito, which are the ones that carry Zika.

"Those mosquitoes can be very aggressive and they can bite multiple times, so they'll take a blood meals from possibly multiple hosts which can spread the disease really fast," says Spencer Lockwood of Dallas County Mosquito Control.

Residents in targeted neighborhoods, including those with a high population of people who travel to the Caribbean, Central and South Americas, have received door hangers reminding them of personal protection against mosquito bites.

Officials urge everyone to use mosquito repellent and dunks.

"Even if we don't have Zika, we still have West Nile virus, so you still to constantly be aware of mosquitoes and trying to prevent them," says Lockwood.

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