GRAYSON COUNTY, Texas (KXII) - The first locally transmitted case of the Zika virus was reported Wednesday in Hidalgo County, Texas on Wednesday according to the Texas Department of Health Services.
That means the disease was transmitted by a mosquito from Texas, instead of somebody being bitten outside the county and bringing the disease to the United States.
There were 312 cases reported by the CDC last year in Texas.
“So this year we were expecting to see some in the state," said Josh Stevenson from the Grayson County Health Department.
This specific case may have been contracted more than 500 miles away from Grayson County, but local health officials want the public to be aware and take preventative action.
"It's a good opportunity to remind everybody to take steps and precautions to keep themselves safe," Stevenson said.
The Grayson County Health Department tests mosquitoes every week for signs of Zika, West Nile virus, or other mosquito-borne diseases.
“We’re always out setting mosquito traps, counting the numbers and testing them,” Stevenson said.
And now that the infection is here, prevention is key. The city of Sherman applies mosquito treatment directly to standing bodies of water.
“When the environmental code people travel around to dozens of bodies of water, they're putting bait the mosquito larvae feed on and die off before they would be biting people," said Sherman city spokesperson Nate Strauch.
Stevenson said Zika is especially concerning for pregnant women, as it can cause birth defects—so his department gives out safety kits for lower income mothers in the area. They include mosquito screens and Deet bug spray.
“80 percent of people who contract the Zika virus will have no signs or symptoms whatsoever," he warned. "It's one of those things that makes Zika very dangerous, because it can spread throughout the population sort of silently."
He said locals should use Deet, stay inside during dawn and dusk, and dump out standing water to keep Zika and other mosquito-borne disease out of Grayson County.