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Metro Health gets federal funding, adds personnel to fight Zika

Director "not ruling out" local Zika transmission this year

SAN ANTONIO – The city’s Metro Health department will use nearly $727,000 to combat the spread of the Zika virus this year.

City Council members approved Thursday the use of the federal funds, which will pay for a media campaign and community education about the disease as well as three additional Metro Health jobs.

The three additional personnel will help Metro Health identify Zika faster and help the department test for Zika in both humans and mosquitoes.

Related: CDC gives Texas $5 million grant to combat Zika             

“If we identify someone who has Zika we can make sure vector control is out there immediately to kill any mosquitoes in that area to prevent transmission to others,” said Dr. Colleen Bridger, Metro Health director.

The Zika virus made headlines last year as it spread in areas of Miami, Florida, and was largely expected to make its way to Texas.

The virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, poses a threat to pregnant women and their unborn children and is known to cause a microcephaly in fetuses, which causes babies to be born with smaller than normal heads.

Related: First Zika virus case confirmed in Bexar County

Metro Health Vector Control crews are already treating standing water around the city and Bridger urges San Antonians to get rid of any standing water around their homes.

“So we had a thunderstorm a couple of nights ago,” Bridger said. “People need to be walking around their homes and dumping out the watering cans and other places where a little bit of water can gather because that's mosquito breeding area.”

People are encouraged to use bug spray and wear long sleeves and pants when outside in an area where mosquitoes could live.

 

 

Related: First non-travel-related Zika virus in pregnant Texas woman confirmed

Mosquito season in San Antonio is considered to be from March through October.

Bridger expects mosquitoes to be out in full force “any day now” and says while Metro Health expects to see more Zika cases brought to the U.S. by people traveling abroad, “we are not ruling out locally transmitted Zika, which is why we are so thrilled to have these funds to be able to respond to that.”

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