Help Your Patients Prevent Zika Virus Transmission

UPDATE: Watch the recorded "Zika Virus Disease" webinar. (Please note that CE credit is not provided for the recorded presentation.)

To help prevent the spread of Zika virus in Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has developed flyers and door hangers (available in English and Spanish) you can use in your office to educate your patients on protecting themselves from the disease. DSHS is testing for Zika virus at its public health lab in Austin. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages Texas physicians to report suspected Zika virus cases to DSHS.

CDC recently issued Update: Interim Guidance for Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus — United States, 2016. CDC's recommendations apply to men who have traveled to or reside in areas with active Zika virus transmission and their sex partners.

As of March 23, 2016, CDC reported a total of 273 travel-associated Zika cases in the United States. Of these, 19 are in pregnant women, and six were sexually transmitted.

According to DSHS, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry Zika virus, can be found in Texas, particularly in urban areas in the south and southeast portions of the state. While there is no evidence of local transmission by Texas mosquitoes now, state health officials have implemented Zika virus prevention plans in anticipation of increased mosquito activity and the potential for local mosquito transmission.

To help ensure Texas physicians have all they need to diagnose the virus, DSHS updated its website with a supplemental testing information form and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology specimen criteria form. The PCR test can confirm the presence of Zika virus. Serologic testing can detect Zika infection in people who may not have had symptoms, and the test can be conducted up to 12 weeks after infection. DSHS says a positive serologic test result requires confirmatory testing to pinpoint Zika because it can cross-react with other viruses, such as dengue.

DSHS is working with local officials in the Rio Grande Valley area, a potential hot spot for Zika virus transmission, to monitor mosquito activity. The agency reports spot trapping in the area in February yielded no Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. DSHS urges communities to consider expanding their surveillance in coordination with local mosquito control efforts.

The disease can cause fever, rash, muscle and joint aches, and red eyes, and also has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly and other poor birth outcomes in some women infected during their pregnancy.

A health advisory on the sexual transmission of Zika virus sent to physicians by the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services (DCHHS) advises clinicians to consider Zika virus infection in patients (including pregnant women) with two or more compatible symptoms (fever, rash, conjunctivitis, or joint pain) within two weeks of travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission. The department says the infection also should be considered in patients with compatible clinical syndrome but without travel history who report recent unprotected sexual contact (within the previous two weeks) with a person with a compatible history of illness and history of travel.

TMA and the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have prepared guidance for physicians on the Zika virus and pregnant patients.

State health officials continue to encourage people to follow travel precautions. CDC is advising pregnant women to delay travel to foreign countries where Zika is being transmitted. 

More Information 

Action, April 1, 2016
(Updated June 20, 2016)

Last Updated On

June 20, 2016