Published in LA WEEKLY BY DENNIS ROMERO
Zika’s a particularly evil little virus that could cause microcephaly, a rare neurological condition that causes affected infants to be born with abnormally small heads. This week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced a recent case of sexually transmitted Zika reported in the Dallas area.
“According to a Dallas County Health Department investigation, a person who recently traveled to an area with Zika virus transmission returned to the United States and developed Zika-like symptoms,” the CDC said in a statement. “The person later tested positive for Zika, along with their sexual partner, who had not traveled to the area.”
That said, reports of sexually transmitted Zika are rare, and experts say the most common form of transmission is via mosquito bites in South America, particularly Brazil, as well as in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Cape Verde and certain Pacific islands (American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga).
Health officials warned pregnant women to avoid or postpone travel to those areas.
The L.A. County Department of Public Health says pregnant women who have traveled to those regions and who have “symptoms suggestive of Zika virus infection during or within two weeks of travel” should get tested.
“The most important messages concern people who may be traveling to locations in the world where Zika virus outbreaks are currently occurring, and advising them on measures they need to take to protect their own health and prevent bringing the disease back here to Los Angeles County,” the county’s interim health officer, Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, said yesterday.
The CDC says avoiding sexual contact with potential Zika patients probably is wise.
“Based on what we know now, the best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites AND to avoid exposure to semen from someone who has been exposed to Zika virus or has been ill from Zika virus infection,” the CDC says.
There has been one case of Zika reported in L.A. And given our pathways to Latin America, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if there are more. That case, reported in November, involved a girl who had traveled to El Salvador late last year and later recovered.
It sounds like you shouldn’t be too afraid. But you should definitely be aware. For the latest info on the virus, go here.