Dallas County Ready As It Can Be for Zika Virus Threat

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the county is more prepared than most places in the country to deal with the threat of Zika because Ebola helped prepare Dallas County for it.

On Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced $16 million in funding to states and territories to fight Zika. Texas is one of four states to get $720,000.

"Everything we're learning about Zika, as we go along, is bad news," Jenkins warned. "There's a whole lot about the disease we don't know." 

Jenkins said Dallas County has identified and tested more than 500 people for Zika. As of Tuesday night, 22 people in the county tested positive for the virus. Most got it by traveling to a Zika-infected area. One got the virus through sexual contact.

Jenkins asked community members not to travel to areas with Zika.

"I'm asking those who will listen," Jenkins said. "Don't go."

"I've already canceled plenty of babymoons for my pregnant patients," said Dr. Sheila Chhutani, an OB/GYN at Texas Health Dallas. "For pregnant patients, I tell them not to go. For women looking to be pregnant in the near future, I tell them not to go." 

Both Jenkins and Chhutani said everyone has to do his or her part to prevent the spread of Zika. 

"If it happens here, if it happens anywhere, and it will happen somewhere in the continental United States," Jenkins said. "It's going to be a very serious thing." 

"It reminds me a little of Ebola," Chhutani said. "It's scary."

The Ebola crisis helped put resources and systems in place in Dallas County to deal with a pandemic like Zika.

"I think if everybody does their part," said Chhutani, "we can definitely fight this together." 

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