Research reveals dangerous virus surfacing in Houston

The virus is spread by mosquitoes, similar to the way West Nile virus is transmitted

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - Brand new research done in Houston reveals a dangerous virus spread by mosquitoes has shown up in our area. This isn't the West Nile Virus we've heard so much about. Scientists say they've discovered previous cases of Dengue Virus in Houston.

Dengue is a virus spread by mosquitoes, similar to the way West Nile Virus is transmitted. But Dengue is spread by a different mosquito, mostly the Asian Tiger Mosquito, which is rampant in the Houston area.

Porfirio Villarreal with Houston Department of Health says Dengue is contracted in a unique manner.

"The mosquito is infected when it bites a person who has traveled to a country that does have the disease and after about a week that mosquito becomes infect and if it bites a healthy person, it can infect that person," he explained.

The Asian Tiger Mosquito is most active during the middle of the day, which is another big difference from the insects that carry West Nile, which are out mostly between dusk and dawn.

The study from the Baylor College of Medicine tracked blood samples from the Houston area collected during a West Nile outbreak between 2003 and 2005. Researchers found 47 patients tested positive for Dengue. Two patients died.

"When you have Dengue fever you have the fever, the headache and then you have pain in your bones, joints, muscles and eyes," according to Villareal. "It can progress to dengue hemorrhagic fever which is a more severe form of the disease."

The study also found Dengue Virus is often overlooked because a lot of doctors don't know how to recognize the symptoms. Baylor researchers are now working to educate physicians on how to recognize the disease.

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