Zika Virus outbreak has now spread to other states outside of Florida, including Ohio, Indiana, and now Tenessee.
According to ABC news, Florida has expanded its state of Emergency to its 7th county due to Zika virus. The Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong announced Monday that 16 people in total have been diagnosed with Zika virus in Florida. Counties Broward, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Osceloa, Santa Rosa, and St. Johns are now under a public health emergency.
Zika virus is related to Yellow Fever and the West Nile virus. Zika virus is transmitted through a mosquito bite in most cases, although the CDC has confirmed one U.S. case of Zika virus infection in a person who had not traveled to a heavily affected area; however, his sexual partner recently had. Zika virus can be found in the saliva and mucous membranes but there is no indication Zika virus can spread from casual contact.
According to the CDC, only one in five persons infected with Zika virus will experience illness, with symptoms such as fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis, rash, headache, and muscle pain. Complications that require hospitalization from Zika virus are rare.
This morning, health officials from Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee reported cases of Zika virus. Two individuals had recently traveled to Haiti and one to South America.
“The risk of contracting Zika virus here in Indiana remains low, but we know that many residents are concerned.” Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams stated. “We urge anyone visiting affected areas to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a total of 30 cases of Zika virus in 12 states, including the District of Columbia.
There is no vaccine for Zika virus, however, according to US Today‘s, Cincinnati, Sen. Sherrod Brown and three other senators introduced a bill to enhance the development of a vaccine, as well as treatments for Zika virus, following the reports of Zika virus infections in Ohio and Indiana.
The CDC is advising pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas that Zika virus has been detected due to Zika virus being linked to birth defects. It is also recommended that women with male partners that travel to, or reside in areas where Zika virus has been detected, should refrain from any form of unprotected sexual activity for the length of the pregnancy to avoid transmitting Zika virus to the unborn child.
The birth defects of Zika virus include microcephaly, a condition in which the baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain, causing brain damage.
There is currently an epidemic of Zika virus in tropical areas such as the Caribbean, Central, and South America as well as Mexico. A high rate of babies born with microcephaly in Brazil is being seen where an outbreak of Zika virus is on the rise.
Since the outbreak of Zika virus, the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention announced that its operations system has been put on the highest level of activation, Level 1 status.
“I think we are clearly better prepared for an outbreak like Zika then [we] were, let’s say, a year or so ago,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health told reporters on Monday. “I think that’s testified by the fact that we have responded very, very rapidly to this. We had the President of the United States involved in a very thorough briefing and briefings of this very early on.”
[Photo by James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP Images]