Two cases of Zika virus in Dallas County, one acquired sexually

Dallas County officials said there are two cases of Zika virus in Dallas County -- one of them transmitted sexually.

Dallas County Health and Human Services said a person acquired the virus while in Venezuela and came back and transmitted the disease to a second person via sexual transmission.

"Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others," said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. "Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections."

Typically the Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitos, but doctors are now learning that it can also be spread from person to person through sexual activity.

Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Usually these symptoms are mild and only last several days. There are no medications available that fight Zika virus and there are no vaccines.

Health officials have noted a suspicious link between Zika's arrival in Brazil last year and a surge in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads. The World Health Organization declared an international emergency on Monday.

"After a review of the evidence, the committee advised that the clusters of microcephaly and other neurological complications constitute an extraordinary event and public health threat to other parts of the world," WHO Director General Margaret Chan said.

WHO estimates there could be up to 4 million cases of Zika in the Americas in the next year. Officials said people can avoid the Zika virus by protecting against mosquito bites and avoiding sexual contact with those infected.

There are currently no reports of the virus being locally transmitted by mosquitoes in Dallas County. However, health officials said it could happen eventually.

No details about the Dallas County patients were released for privacy reasons.