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FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2016, file photo, a female Aedes aegypti mosquito, known to be a carrier of the Zika virus, acquires a blood meal on the arm of a researcher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute of Sao Paulo University in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

Experts fear Zika could return in Texas and target the poor. But people aren't prepared.


The Zika virus dominated headlines for months after an outbreak in Brazil in 2015 spread to the U.S. 

But now that people aren't paying close attention to it, it might strike again. Not in Florida, which drew most of the U.S.' attention, but in Texas, The Guardian reports.

This time around, people may suspect the Zika virus isn't as serious a threat as it actually is, and the poorest people in Texas' Rio Grande Valley may be at risk.

You have these families who don't even have money to get rid of their garbage, and their houses are infested with all kinds of creatures.
Patricia Pena, La Frontera Ministries

The valley is home to more than 1.3 million people, many in neighborhoods known as "colonias" that have lots of standing water and few houses with window screens. 

"It's going to hit the poorest people," University of Texas professorJoseph McCormick said.

MGN Mosquito
The Payette County Mosquito Abatement District says the mosquitoes were located at Kiwanis Park. (Photo: Stephen Ausmus / USDA / CC BY 2.0)

Among other symptoms, the Zika virus is known to cause birth defects, particularly microcephaly. But until those symptoms are visible, said community organizer Michael Seifert, Zika will only be an "urban legend."

Zika has hit the state before. From 2015-2016, 320 cases were reported, and 10 have been reported so far this year. In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged pregnant women to consider avoiding the city of Brownsville due to Zika risks. 

And the political background has only made things more complicated. Seifert said people are hesitant to say if they've been to Mexico "because of the whole Trump mess." That hesitation makes it harder to determine where Zika cases originated.


Nationwide, many state health departments were told Zika funds expected to last five years will likely run out by this summer, PBS reported.  That likely means tests for mosquito-borne diseases will drop to pre-Zika outbreak levels.

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