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Influenza – Dec. 8, 2017

The 2017–2018 flu season has begun, and DSHS encourages everyone to get vaccinated now. Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by one of a number of related viruses. The flu vaccine is made up of strains similar to ones likely to be circulating in North America, and early vaccination provides the best protection against contracting the flu. Vaccination is especially important for people with chronic health conditions and weaker immune systems and their caregivers. Additional information about influenza and ways to stop the spread of the flu virus can be found at www.texasflu.org.

DSHS monitors influenza activity across the state all year. The most recent flu surveillance report shows regional flu activity in Texas and moderate levels of influenza-like illness.

Additional information:
DSHS news release
Flu surveillance background


For the latest Zika news, see our News Releases page and/or TexasZika.org.

Zika Virus – Dec. 12, 2017

The announcement of three recent Zika cases in Hidalgo County, including one that appears to have been transmitted locally by mosquitoes, demonstrates that Zika remains a threat in the Rio Grande Valley. Local health officials announced the cases on Thursday, Dec. 7 and urged residents to remain vigilant for Zika.

City and county officials in the area have responded quickly, investigating the cases, stepping up mosquito surveillance and control efforts in the surrounding areas, and going door-to-door to remind residents of Zika risks and precautions and identify anyone else with symptoms.

Residents of the Rio Grande Valley should remain on alert for Zika and take precautions even during the winter months because it often stays warm enough there for mosquito activity to continue through much of the winter, and there are reports of Zika activity in communities on the Mexican side of the border.

Hidalgo County is one of nine counties in South Texas where DSHS recommends testing all pregnant women for Zika once during each trimester of pregnancy and testing anyone with an itchy rash plus one other common Zika symptom: fever, joint pain or eye redness. This enhanced surveillance, first introduced in April 2017, has resulted in identifying Zika infections that would otherwise have gone undetected. DSHS made the testing recommendations because the area’s geography and climate put it at higher risk for Zika transmission.

DSHS provides updates every Tuesday on the number of Zika virus disease cases in Texas by the patient’s county of residence. As of the week ending December 8, 45 Zika cases have been reported for 2017, with 323 cases reported for 2015 and 2016. Full data for previous years is available at TexasZika.org.

Bexar - 4
Brazoria - 1
Brazos - 1
Cameron† - 11            
Collin - 2 
Dallas - 2      
Denton - 1 
Harris - 11                         
Hidalgo† - 4                             
Kerr - 1
Lubbock - 1
Smith - 2
Travis - 1
Upshur - 1
Webb - 1
Williamson - 1

All cases are travel associated except where otherwise noted.
† Includes cases transmitted by mosquitoes in Texas Cameron (1); Hidalgo (1).

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause fever, rash, muscle and joint aches and red eyes (conjunctivitis). Symptoms are usually mild, and most people exposed to Zika virus won’t develop any symptoms at all. Zika has also been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with the virus while pregnant.

Because the virus spreads from place to place through human travel, DSHS encourages people to follow travel precautions for countries and regions where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. That generally includes Latin America, the Caribbean and some Pacific islands. DSHS recommends travelers avoid mosquito bites while abroad and for 21 days after returning, in case they have been exposed to the virus.

People everywhere can protect themselves from mosquito bites and the threat of Zika by taking a few simple steps:

  • Apply EPA-registered insect repellents.
  • Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts that cover exposed skin.
  • Use screens or close windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home. 
  • Remove standing water in and around your home.
  • Cover trash cans or containers where water can collect.

Additional information at TexasZika.org

Texas Zika Campaign Materials

DSHS News Releases

Zika Virus at CDC

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West Nile – Dec. 12, 2017

Texas is again experiencing illnesses caused by West Nile virus, a virus spread by mosquitoes. So far this year, there have been 127 confirmed human cases, including five deaths. In 2016, Texas reported 370 human cases of West Nile illness, including 18 deaths. Most people who get infected don’t get sick, but about 20 percent will experience symptoms of West Nile fever: headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. In one percent of infections or less, the virus can affect the nervous system, causing a case of West Nile neuroinvasive disease that can include neurological symptoms like disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma and even death. The precautions used to prevent mosquito bites to stop Zika will also help prevent West Nile infections.

2017 West Nile Cases
County West Nile Fever West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease Total
Bexar 2 3
Bowie 2 2
Collin 4 8 12
Cooke 1 1
Dallas 11 15 26
Deaf Smith 1 1
Denton 7 4 11
El Paso 3 11 14
Ellis 1 1
Harris 1 12 13
Hockley 1 1
Hutchinson 1 1
Jim Wells 1 1
Johnson 1 1
Karnes 1 1
Limestone 1 1
Lubbock 2 2
Montgomery 2 2
Nueces 1 1
Panola 1 1
Potter 1 1
Randall 1 1
Rockwall 1 1
San Patricio 1 1
Smith 1 1
Sterling 1 1
Swisher 1 1
Tarrant 9 11 20
Val Verde 1 1
Van Zandt 1 1 2
Webb   1 1
Wheeler   1 1
Williamson   1 1
Total 47 82 129

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Last updated December 12, 2017