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Health officials, campus experts discuss Zika virus
February 11, 2016

Health officials, campus experts discuss Zika virus

Health officials, campus experts discuss Zika virus

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center arrived on campus Feb. 9 for a blood drive. The Center is implementing new precautions when drawing blood due to concerns of the Zika Virus. Illustration by Alejandra Sol Casas

By Victoria Uribe

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center arrived on campus Feb. 9 for a blood drive, encouraging Texas A&M University-San Antonio students to donate. New during this blood drive was a question to disqualify anyone who may have been exposed to the Zika virus.

While donors are asked to complete a routine 52 questions on the questionnaire, a few additional in-depth questions regarding the Zika Virus were presented to donors, said Jenny Cobos, technician for the STBTC.

As concerns for the Zika virus circulate, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is implementing new precautions for future donors, providing information and awareness for students. As new information on the virus develops nationally, the center encourages donors who have traveled to affected countries to postpone donations until 28 days after their departure, said Cobos.

University departments are also inviting subject matter experts on campus to inform and educate the community on the pandemic.

During a Zika virus presentation today in the Vista Room hosted by Student Life and Wellness, Megan Wise de Valdez, assistant professor of biology, provided an informational session on the risks, current status and symptoms associated with the virus.

The Zika virus was first detected in humans in the 1940s. In 2007, an outbreak occurred on Yap Island affecting 5,000 people in the Western Pacific. Later, in the late 2000s, an outbreak occurred in Polynesia. First detected in Brazil in early 2015, the first case in the Americas, additional cases were later found in other countries.

The primary form of transportation for the virus is through a bite from female mosquitoes.  

Texas harbors 80 different types of mosquitoes, with Aedes aegypti as the majority in San Antonio. Citing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Wise de Valdez said one confirmed case of the virus exists in San Antonio with five suspected cases under review. The cases were not locally acquired, but rather from traveling returning to the city from other countries. 

Those infected will experience symptoms such as fever, rash, and joint pain, she said.

Wise de Valdez plans to meet with the State Department of Health on Tuesday to discuss what precautions San Antonio plans to make regarding this outbreak.  In addition, she encourages returning travelers to see a doctor if symptoms begin to develop.

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