Zika Virus

Vivian Abagiu / UT Austin

Scientists say they’ve invented a new tool to fight mosquito-borne illnesses. The technology could help public health officials rapidly track and fight the spread of diseases like Zika and dengue fever.

All it takes is a cellphone, a small 3D-printed plastic box and a chemical mixture, says Sanchita Bhadra, a molecular biologist at UT Austin who worked on the project.

Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

The first documented locally acquired case of Zika in the continental U.S this year has been detected in Hidalgo County, at the southern tip of Texas. There's no indication this is the start of a large-scale outbreak.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said a person who lives in Hidalgo County, which borders Mexico, tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information on how Sanofi Pasteur was chosen as the company to license the Zika vaccine.

The U.S. Army is planning to grant an exclusive license to the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. to manufacture and sell a Zika vaccine the Army developed last year.

And that has Rebekah Gee, Louisiana's secretary of health, worried about paying for it.

Tom/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Mosquito season is looming large in Texas, and with it, renewed fears of mosquito-borne illnesses. Several Zika cases have already been reported this year in the Rio Grande Valley.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Zika virus presents a lot of complications for public health officials, but according to a new study, one of the biggest problems is a knowledge gap.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Mosquito season is upon us, and Texas still isn’t out of the woods when it comes to Zika.

The mosquito-borne illness can cause birth defects if a woman is exposed to it while pregnant. Last year, there were 312 cases of Zika reported in the state.

flickr/jamesjordan

There could be Zika cases in Texas we missed this year, according to experts in the state. That became clearer after health officials closely monitored a small area in South Texas earlier this month and found several additional cases of locally-transmitted Zika.

A couple weeks ago, Cameron County reported the first-known locally-transmitted case of Zika in Texas.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

From the Texas Tribune: The Texas Department of State Health Services and the Cameron County health department announced Friday they've identified four more locally-transmitted cases of Zika in Cameron County.

In late November, the first such case in Texas, contracted by mosquito bite, was reported out of Cameron County.

James Gathany/CDC

Texas officials have announced the first in-state transmission of the Zika virus in Texas. In a statement released this afternoon, the Texas Department of State Health Services said there was a “very likely” chance a Zika case in the Rio Grande Valley originated from a mosquito in the area. The Cameron County woman, who was not named, is not pregnant and has not visited any places with active Zika transmission, the department said.

Some tiny clusters of brain cells grown in a lab dish are making big news at this week's Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego.

Known as "minibrains," these rudimentary networks of cells are small enough to fit on the head of a pin, but already are providing researchers with insights into everything from early brain development to Down syndrome, Alzheimer's and Zika.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

For about a month now, Texas has provided mosquito repellant to low-income women and children. It’s in an effort to prevent the spread of Zika – just in case the virus infects local mosquito populations. 


Harris County health officials are reporting the first death related to the Zika virus in Texas.

An infant born with microcephaly, a condition where the child has an abnormally small head, died shortly after birth last month. Zika is a known cause of the birth defect. The child's mother did not know she had contracted Zika while traveling in El Salvador earlier this year. 

This is the second case of Zika-related microcephaly in Harris County.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

From Texas Standard:

Federal funding will be an integral part of controlling Zika in Texas. But promising funding may be easier said than done. Congress left Washington last month for a seven-week recess without passing legislation that would have provided additional funding to combat the virus. Senate Democrats now lead a growing chorus who say Congress should cancel the recess to pass Zika legislation.

Jamie Lovegrove, the Washington correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, tells the Standard that now Texas Republicans are also asking the Obama administration to step up their efforts. They're requesting more transparency about the administration's use of the $589 million that it re-purposed from other areas of the budget in April.

 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

The Zika virus will be front and center as public health officials meet in Austin Monday to discuss infectious disease preparedness in the state. Besides funding issues, though, pockets of high uninsured rates in Texas could make monitoring for the mosquito-transmitted virus more complicated.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

With federal funding to fight Zika stuck in Congress, and amid news that mosquito-to-human transmission of the virus has reached the continental U.S., Texas officials announced on Wednesday they would allow Medicaid to pay for mosquito repellent for women, in the hopes of preventing the disease.

Can Bats Conquer Zika?

Jul 12, 2016
Flickr/mzmo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

You've probably heard bats by the hundreds, flying out of a cave or from under a bridge. But have you heard a bat solo, squeaking to be fed?

"She can chew and talk all at the same time," Dianne Odegard says, talking to the female bat she's feeding. "It’s the middle of the day, you’re not that hungry."


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

A number of health care leaders and advocates want Texas to include mosquito repellent in pharmacy benefits for people on Medicaid and other government health programs.  


James Gathany/CDC

States that are home to the aedes agypti mosquito have been keeping tabs on confirmed cases of the Zika virus, which can cause severe birth defects in unborn children.

So far, states have reported primarily travel-related cases and just a few that were sexually transmitted.


From the Texas Tribune: Texas' top Senate Republicans on Monday upped the urgency on federal policymakers to do something about the Zika virus.

James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control

Texas is gearing up for Zika. Last week, state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, asked state health officials to come up with “a clear and concise plan” for dealing with a possible outbreak.

Even though leaders are on high alert, experts warn there are some underlying health care access issues in Texas that could make dealing with Zika difficult.

Calafellvalo via Flickr

Believe it or not, Texas is not among a short list of states that prohibits fetal tissue research. Advocates and researchers say that’s a good thing, because Texas is among a list of states that would be affected if the Zika virus makes it into the U.S. mosquito population. 


James Gathany/CDC

Mosquito season is looming and Texas public health officials are preparing for the possibility of the Zika virus infecting the state’s mosquito population. Following missteps during the Ebola crisis in Dallas less than two years ago, officials say they are applying what they learned during that ordeal to a new infectious disease threat.


flickr/jamesjordan

Despite two confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus Zika in Travis County, the city of Austin says it will not make any big changes to its mosquito control strategy as the warm season opens – a time ripe for insect breeding. 


flickr/jamesjordan

Travis County health officials have confirmed the second case of Zika virus in the region. With peak mosquito season approaching, what should people be watching out for?


thespeakernews via flickr

Public health officials in Dallas County have confirmed the first sexually transmitted case of the Zika virus, which is said to be linked to birth defects.

The virus is typically transmitted by mosquitoes, but Dallas County Health and Human Services said Tuesday that an unidentified person had been infected by sexual transmission — the first confirmed case of a person acquiring the virus in the continental United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the transmission Tuesday.

thespeakernews via flickr

Texas has at least six confirmed cases of the Zika virus, according to state health officials.

The World Health Organization declared Monday that the "explosive" spread of the virus in the Americas should qualify as an international emergency.