ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Two of our state's biggest cities, Dallas and Houston, have now reported multiple cases of the Zika virus.
It's the mosquito that has alarmed pregnant women along with residents in the majority of South American countries. It's virus has touched down in Dallas, only 140 miles shy of Deep East Texas.
"Zika is new and something that the World Health Organization and the CDC are just now beginning to be aware of. There are the birth defects associated with it, so it is a bit scary," said Sharon Shaw, Administrator of Angelina County and Cities Health District.
Shaw said as the health authority in Angelina County, they've been receiving daily updates regarding the virus. One of those updates was a case contracted through sexual contact from a man traveling from Venezuela to Dallas to his partner.
"There's always a chance that with international travel that we have now that individuals may travel to areas that have Zika virus mosquitoes. They may travel to Dallas or Houston or Lufkin for their job or vacation," Shaw said.
Shaw said the same precautions taken to avoid West Nile Virus should be taken to avoid the Zika virus. Those include using a DEET repellent, avoiding being out around dusk and dawn, draining standing water, and dressing appropriately.
"We just need to be vigilant and make sure individuals take care of themselves. Question if that travel necessary. Do I need to go to a place that has an outbreak of a certain mosquito born illness?" Shaw said.
Shaw said there is always a chance for viruses to travel.
"There are types of mosquitoes that carry disease. We have both in East Texas,"
In the case that the Zika virus were to fly into East Texas, Shaw said, "The health district has a preparedness team. There are five of us, and we watch these incoming emails daily. We are on the state's response so we get the most updated info from the CDC."
Shaw also said if you have a partner who travels back and forth from countries with active Zika virus transmission, you should avoid unprotected sex until the time frame of transmission passes.