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Are Mosquito-Borne Disease Rates Finally Dropping In Texas Since 2016’s Zika Scare?

Many people were affected by the 2016 Zika epidemic that struck South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and the most southern areas of the US, particularly the states of Texas and Florida. This devastating mosquito-borne virus can be transmitted sexually, and the virus is a serious health threat to the developing fetus of pregnant women who have become infected. This was the most tragic aspect of the epidemic, as it resulted in a massive increase in birth defect rates in the Americas. During the epidemic, pregnant women in America were strongly advised to avoid traveling to Zika affected areas abroad and in the southern US, including southern Texas. A Zika epidemic has not occurred since 2016, but public health officials in the US remain concerned about Zika-infected mosquitoes that may still inhabit certain areas of the southeastern US.

While the Zika virus is no longer infecting Texas residents, Kate Fowlie, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, claims that the rate of annual mosquito-borne disease cases reported in the US has been increasing each year in the country since the Zika epidemic occurred three years ago. A growing number of cases involving lesser-known mosquito-borne diseases is driving this increase. Some of these lesser-known mosquito-borne diseases, such as St. Louis encephalitis and La Crosse encephalitis, have been reported with increasing frequency in Texas.

During 2016, six people contracted the Zika virus locally within Texas, 2017 saw 5 local Zika transmissions in the state, and since then, no locally acquired Zika cases have been reported in Texas. However, La Crosse virus cases have been increasing steadily in the east, southeast and upper midwest regions of the country during the past decade. Since 2009, 5 La Crosse virus cases have been reported in Texas, but experts suspect that this virus is significantly underreported. St Louis encephalitis is another mosquito-borne disease of concern among public health professionals in the US, and the state of Texas has seen 9 locally transmitted cases of this disease occur in the state during the past decade. For many people who contract St. Louis encephalitis, manageable symptoms including fever, headache and nausea are commonly reported, but around 90 percent of older adults who contract this disease develop meningitis, and 5 to 15 percent of these cases result in fatalities. The majority of fatality cases resulting from St. Louis encephalitis occurred within Texas, California and Arkansas.

Are you concerned about the growing rate of mosquito-borne diseases cases being reported in the country and the state of Texas?

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