Texas DSHS officials dismiss Zika virus in Panhandle region

Due to the Zika virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a "public health emergency of international concern." It's just the fourth time in history the WHO has made such a declaration. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) doesn't believe the virus posses much, if any concern, for the Panhandle region.

"I think it's not something that most people in Texas need to worry about right now," said Chris Van Deusen, press officer for Texas DSHS. "Right now, the folks that need to be concerned are the folks that are traveling to countries where it is being transmitted. They should do everything they can to protect themselves from mosquitoes." The Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites.

The most common symptoms of the disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week or so. Hospitalization is very uncommon. The virus is linked to a rare birth defect called microcephaly. There have been six cases reported in Texas so far. Each of those cases have been from people who traveled to affected Central American countries.

Are you planning travel to Central or South America anytime soon? Have you recently traveled to those regions? The News-Herald would like to hear your comments.