Two of 21 California women with confirmed cases of Zika virus have delivered babies with the birth defect microcephaly in connection with the Zika infection.
Both women contracted Zika “after spending time in a country where the virus is endemic,” according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Mosquitos with the ability to carry the virus have been discovered in 12 California counties, but as of yet there is no evidence to suggest that the virus has been transmitted from these mosquitos to humans in California.
“This is a sobering reminder for Californians that Zika can cause serious harm to a developing fetus,” CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said in a statement released on Thursday. “We join the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in urging pregnant women to avoid travel to areas with known Zika transmission. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and speak with a health care provider upon return.”
“Zika virus can also be transmitted to sexual partners by both males and females. Both men and women of childbearing age should take precautions if they have recently traveled, or plan to travel, to a location where Zika is spreading,” said Smith.
Recently in Miami, Florida it was discovered that mosquitos within the state had transmitted the Zika virus. The revelation resulted in a partial travel restriction for that portion of Miami.
In California, the CDPH is monitoring pregnant women carrying the Zika virus and will monitor infants born to Zika-infected mothers for one year.
Zika virus can be spread through bites from mosquitos as well as through sexual activity. Those planning travel to areas with Zika outbreaks have been urged to take precautions including the use of insect repellant, installing window and door screens, wearing long sleeves and pants, and emptying containers that hold standing water.
Confirmed cases of Zika infection in California residents from 2015 through June 29, 2016 totaled 113, plus one non-resident, according to the CDPH. 47 of those cases occurred in Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Those infected are often asymptomatic, making it difficult to determine the extent of an outbreak. Symptoms can include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis.
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