EL PASO, Texas -

An El Paso woman tested positive for the Zika virus after traveling to Puerto Rico, the Department of Public Health announced Thursday.

The woman, who is not pregnant, is the second El Pasoan to contract the virus.

"This individual spent a week in this affected area and started showing symptoms shortly after returning to El Paso on August 17th," said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director.

DPH is encouraging anyone who may be traveling to Zika-affected regions, including certain areas of Florida, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and U.S. territories, to take strict precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Because Zika can also be transmitted sexually, anyone who travels to a Zika-affected area should either abstain from sexual activity, or use condoms correctly and consistently for the following amount of time.

  • Men who have symptoms or are diagnosed with Zika - consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 6 months after symptoms begin.
  • Women who have symptoms or are diagnosed with Zika - consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after symptoms begin.
  • Men and Women with no symptoms - consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after returning from travel.


Couples who are expecting should use condoms correctly, every time they have any type of sexual activity or do not have sex for the entire pregnancy to protect the unborn fetus from the risk of severe birth defects, including microcephaly.

Additionally, non-pregnant women of childbearing age who travel, or who have a male partner who travels, to a Zika-affected region, should talk with their healthcare providers about their pregnancy plans and take steps to avoid any unintended pregnancy, including correct and consistent condom use.

The Zika virus is a mild illness spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, DPH said.  Common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes, lasting from several days to one week.

The following prevention methods are highly encouraged to prevent many mosquito-borne diseases including Zika and West Nile virus:

  • Apply EPA-approved insect repellent.
  • Wear pants and long-sleeve shirts that cover exposed skin. In warmer weather, wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers exposed skin.
  • Use screens or close windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Tip and Toss: Remove standing water in and around the home. This includes water in cans, toys, tires, plant saucers, and any container that can hold water.
  • Cover trash cans or containers where water can collect.


To avoid infecting local mosquitoes, people who travel to areas with active Zika transmission should apply insect repellent every time they go outside for at least three weeks after they return to Texas - and longer if they develop an illness that could be Zika.