Wednesday, January 20, 2016

3 Cases Of Baby Brain-Shrinking Zika Virus Confirmed In Florida


UPDATE: Zika Virus Now In All Major Florida Tourism Counties

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed three cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Florida that were imported by people traveling to South America.


One case involved a Hillsborough County (Tampa area) resident who had traveled to Venezuela in December. The other two cases were Miami-Dade County residents who had traveled to Columbia in December.

Zika is spread by bites from two mosquito species: Aedes aegypti (primarily) and Aedes albopictus, both found in Florida. Although local transmissions have not occurred in the Sunshine State, local transmissions are possible if a Zika infected visitor or returning traveler is bitten by Florida mosquitoes that then spread the virus to other people they bite.  In addition to the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can also transmit dengue feverChikungunya virus, West Nile virus, and Yellow Fever.

Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas.  According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries like the United States because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world. 

According to the CDC, babies born with the Zika virus transmitted from their mothers who contracted the disease while pregnant have developed microcephaly - a disease which causes the babies' brains and heads to shrink. Maternal-fetal transmission of Zika virus has been documented throughout pregnancy and pregnant women can be infected with Zika virus in any trimester.

Because there is neither a vaccine nor prophylactic medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, the CDC has issued a warning to all pregnant women to consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

Photo credit: CDC