CDC Designates the City of Brownsville, Texas as a Zika Cautionary (yellow) Area for Testing and Travel Guidance

PUBLISHED: Dec 15, 2016

The US Centers for Disease control and Prevention has issued a Health Advisory with guidance on travel and testing of pregnant women and women of reproductive age for Zika Virus in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas. On November 28, 2016, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) reported the first case of locally acquired mosquito-borne Zika virus infection in the city of Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas. On December 9, 2016, four additional cases in people living in proximity to the first case were reported. TDSHS continues to investigate Zika virus transmission in Brownsville.

Currently only five cases are known to have been locally acquired in the Brownsville area, and there is not yet any evidence of widespread, sustained local transmission. However, temperatures in the region are still conducive to mosquito-borne transmission, and therefore the risk of continued local transmission of Zika virus cannot be ruled out. The active, ongoing surveillance and response underway in Texas will provide more information over time that may allow for more precise and focused assessment of risk. The exact level and location of risk of Zika virus infection in Brownsville is unknown; pregnant women in the area are at some risk for Zika virus infection.

For these reasons, CDC is designating the city of Brownsville as a Zika cautionary (yellow) area for testing and travel guidance, as recommended in the CDC Interim Zika Response Plan. Based on the earliest time of symptom onset for cases of locally acquired Zika virus infection in Brownsville and a maximum 2-week incubation period for Zika virus, this guidance applies to pregnant women, women of reproductive age, and their sexual partners who live in or traveled to Brownsville on or after October 29, 2016. Because many people with Zika virus infection will not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms, additional people may be infected.

Brownsville is located in Cameron County, Texas, which shares a border with Mexico. Many people travel regularly across the United States-Mexico border to temporarily live, work, attend school, socialize, and seek medical care. Areas of active Zika virus transmission have also been reported in Mexico near the United States-Mexico border, and the CDC issued a Travel Notice for Mexico on December 10, 2015, recommending that pregnant women should not travel to any area of Mexico below 6,500 feet.

This is an ongoing investigation, and TDSHS, Cameron County Health Department, Brownsville Health Department, and CDC are working together to rapidly learn more about the extent of Zika virus transmission in Brownsville. CDC will update recommendations as more information becomes available.

The CDC’s Health Advisory contains specific recommendation for Brownsville, Texas (yellow area):

  • Travel Recommendations for Pregnant Women
  • Prevention Recommendations for Pregnant Women
  • Testing Recommendations for Pregnant Women
  • Women and Their Partners Who are Planning to Conceive in the Near Future

Additionally, the Advisory includes links to several CDC references.

Included with today’s notice are example policies related to prevention, testing treatment of actual and potential Zika Virus.

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