The Florida government has confirmed five new Zika cases, including another pregnant woman. This brings the total number of cases of pregnant women carrying the Zika virus in Florida to four.
Just as the previous cases, these people received the virus while traveling abroad. Only four have active symptoms out of the 42 cases in the state.
“As of today, five new Zika cases have been confirmed with one in Broward County and three in Miami-Dade County,” wrote Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong. “The fifth new case is a pregnant woman. Of the travel-related cases confirmed in Florida, only four cases are still exhibiting symptoms. According to the CDC, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency over the Zika outbreak in Latin America last month. He has “requested 250 additional Zika antibody tests from the CDC” after he learned about the cases of pregnant women with Zika. The tests allow people “to see if they ever had the Zika virus.” The majority of people who contract Zika do not experience any symptoms.
Zika poses more risks to pregnant women since scientists believe a link exists between Zika and microcephaly, a rare birth defect that occurs when the brain does not form properly during pregnancy or after birth, causing small heads. Children can suffer from seizures, developmental delays, intellectual disability, and feeding problems.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that doctors had confirmed the presence of Zika virus in the tissue of infants who died from microcephaly.
“This is the strongest evidence to date that Zika is the cause of microcephaly,” explained CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Zika is new, and new diseases can be scary, particularly when they can affect the most vulnerable among us.”
Frieden stopped short of claiming Zika caused the microcephaly cases. He said scientists need to perform more tests to confirm an actual link.
The French government has confirmed its first sexually transmitted case of Zika. A woman contracted the disease after her partner returned from Brazil.
“She showed classic signs of the disease,” said one French official. “She was not hospitalised and is doing well.”
Officials confirmed the woman is not pregnant.
Last week, the CDC announced it is investigating fourteen cases of sexually transmitted Zika in the United States. The Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) confirmed the first sexually transmitted Zika case in the beginning of February. The CDC responded with an advisory for people to take precautions to prevent transmission of the virus. This latest discovery forced the center to issue another Health Advisory Notice (HAN) “to underscore the importance of adhering to the interim guidance published on February 5.” These include pregnant women asking their male partners about possible Zika contact. They also asked everyone to use condoms until further notice since no one knows for sure how long Zika survives in sperm.
“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,” explained Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections.”