British tourists who are on vacation in Florida have been cautioned against having unprotected sex while in the Sunshine State. Public Health England (PHE) is the government agency who sent the alert out to the more than 50,000 British citizens. The PHE also warned that any pregnant women should avoid travel to the Southeastern part of the United States. This warning is the same type of warning that was given to British athletes that will be competing at the Olympics in Rio.
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The warning comes after news broke of four people being infected with the Zika virus. Since it has been discovered that the Zika virus can be transmitted sexually, many places that have had outbreaks have put out a warning against unprotected sex. The British people that are already in Florida should abstain from unprotected sex for six to eight weeks. Those who return to England and have symptoms of the virus are being told to not have unprotected sex for up to six months.
Since the Zika virus began to spread around the world, almost 1,700 cases have been reported in the United States. The Florida cases are different than the other U.S. cases due to the fact that local mosquitoes were the ones that caused people to get sick. The previous cases in the United States occurred from infected people returning from a place where Zika was present.
In an attempt to contain the spread of Zika in Florida, officials have stated that they will begin to take aggressive measures to decrease the mosquito population in the hopes that the Zika virus will dissipate. In Brazil, aggressive measures have not had much of an impact on the spread of the virus.
In many people, the Zika virus is not dangerous. The ones that are at risk for complications are pregnant women. When the Zika virus first made headlines, it was discovered that the unborn babies of pregnant women that were infected had a high risk of a major birth defect, fetal microcephaly. The Zika virus has also been linked to miscarriages.
So far, 50 Zika cases in England can be traced back to the person being in a country where the virus has spread. Thomas Cook, an operator at Thompson & First Choice and Virgin Holidays has stated that his company will offer free cancellations for pregnant women traveling to a country where the risk of infection is high. This offer will last until December 31, 2016.
The Zika virus was first isolated in a rhesus monkey in 1947 in Uganda. It was not until 1952 that the Zika virus was given an official classification. Throughout the 1950s, human cases were sporadic in Africa and Asia. It took over 50 years for the virus to branch out of the Africa and Asia regions. In April, 2007, a major outbreak of the virus was reported on Yap Island. Eight years later, Zika was reported in Brazil.
It was not until January of 2016 that health officials saw the damage that the virus could do to women who are pregnant. Shortly after the pregnancy link was made, the World Health Organization declared a public health crisis as Zika had spread to 20 countries.
Currently, no medications exist that can treat or cause immunity to Zika. The best type of prevention is to use mosquito repellent when going outside. If you have reason to believe that you may have the Zika virus, tell your doctor so that you can be tested for it.
Do you think that the British unprotected sex ban will be effective?
[Image Via AP Photo/Lynne Sladky]