CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas –With the first case of Zika Virus confirmed only a few short weeks ago, Islander faculty and staff are doing their best to keep students informed and educated on preventing the virus. Zika is not a stranger to South Texas as the first case of the mosquito-borne virus was detected in Cameron County, late November 2016. Along with local officials addressing the virus Dr. Gregory Buck, Associate Professor of Biology and Biomedical Sciences Program Coordinator at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, is doing his best to keep students informed by lecturing on the virus in his classes this summer.
“There are viruses that are not well-known to scientists,” said Buck. “Zika is one of them, having been discovered in the 1940s but was not known to cause disease until this last decade.”
According to Buck, one of the most important things for Islanders to note is that both signs and symptoms are not unique to the Zika virus and similarly reflect common viruses like the flu or other mosquito-borne viruses such as West Nile. Some of the symptoms include maculopapular rash, which is a flat red area on the skin that is covered with small bumps, the virus can also cause conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation or swelling of the thin layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid. Other symptoms can include muscle pain, headache and joint pain. However, most people infected with Zika show no symptoms and it is recommended that patients who are feeling unwell, who have recently traveled out of the country, or have suffered from recent mosquito bites see their health care provider as soon as possible.
“College-age men and women who are sexually active might wish to be careful—but not paranoid—about mosquitoes and Zika, as they can transmit this virus to their partners,” said Buck.
As cited by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika has been confirmed as a link to birth defects including microcephaly; a sign of incomplete brain development in a fetus. As the virus can be sexually transmitted, CDC officials advise women who are trying to conceive or those who are already pregnant to remain clear of areas of risk.
Following the confirmed case, local officials such as Annette Rodriguez, Nueces County Public Health Director, have released the following tips for community members to “fight the bite:”
To find out more on the Zika virus and stay up-to-date on the latest Zika developments, click here.