Health officials: Zika virus spread through sexual contact in Texas

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

[FILE] A generic photograph of mosquitos.

DALLAS, Texas – Health officials say the first locally transmitted case of the Zika virus has been recorded in Dallas.

KXAS spoke with Dallas County health officials who say the virus was transmitted through sexual contact, not through a mosquito bite.

Authorities say the patient was infected after having sexual contact with an infected person who had recently traveled to Venezuela.

“Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” said Zachary Thompson, Dallas County Health and Human Services director. “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against sexually-transmitted infections.”

So far, there are no reports of the virus being spread locally by mosquitoes.

The CDC says the most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red, itchy eyes. However, many people can have the virus and not know it.

Pregnant women are most at risk for complications because of the virus’ link to serious birth defects.

In 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert about the Zika virus, saying it may be connected to a deadly birth defect.

The virus is often spread through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also is responsible for spreading chikungunya and dengue. The pests usually live in central and south America, but have occasionally been found in south Florida, south Texas and Hawaii.