Four more cases of the Zika virus have been identified in South Texas, and officials believe the cases were transmitted locally.
A woman in the same area of Brownsville last month was diagnosed with the virus, which was the first case recorded by someone in Texas who hadn’t recently traveled from another country.
Officials did a follow-up investigation and found the four other patients who lived “in very close proximity” to the first woman, a Department of State Health Services press release said.
“We’ll continue to follow through with the investigation and additional surveillance to identify other cases and other places experiencing local mosquito transmission of Zika,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “That information will be crucial to any future public health guidance.”
The virus is transmitted primarily through mosquito bites, though sexual transmission can happen.
Pregnant women should avoid traveling to Mexico, where several communities have reported cases of the Zika virus, the state press release said.
The most common symptoms are fever, itchy rash, joint pain and eye redness. Symptoms are usually minor but the virus can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, the press release said.
Texas has had more than 250 confirmed cases of the Zika virus, but before last month, all had been linked to travel.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued a news release last month saying it would reinstate the Medicaid benefit for mosquito repellent. According to the release, the benefit will begin Tuesday and be in place through December “given the possibility of local transmission and risk of Zika in the local community.”