Officials confirm first Zika virus case in Santa Barbara County

August 26, 2016

mosquitoHealth officials have confirmed a Santa Barbara County resident tested positive for the Zika virus. The person who tested positive is a pregnant woman who contracted the virus during travel to Central America, according to the county public health department.

The Zika virus is primarily spread by infected mosquitoes, specifically the yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito. Zika outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, Mexico and Central and South America.

Over the last few weeks, there have also been 42 cases of locally contracted Zika in Florida. There have been no reports of people contracting Zika from mosquito bites in California.

“There is currently no risk for contracting Zika virus in Santa Barbara County via infected mosquitoes,” County Health Officer Charity Dean said. “Taking precautions when traveling to areas with Zika virus, or engaging in sexual contact with someone at risk for Zika infection, are the best ways to avoid contracting the virus.”

Zika can also be spread through sexual activity. Additionally, the Zika infection can be passed from a pregnant woman to the fetus. The infection can cause the child to be born with microcephaly — small head syndrome — as well as brain damage and other birth defects.

No vaccine to prevent Zika currently exists. When someone contracts the virus, the person usually displays mild symptoms for up to a week. However, people who contract the virus are susceptible to fever, eye redness, achy joints and a skin rash.

Last week, KCOY reported Santa Maria resident  Jessica Davis returned from her honeymoon in Costa Rica with numerous mosquito bites and a suspected case of Zika. At the time, lab results were pending, but doctors reportedly said everything was pointing toward Davis having contracted Zika.

Santa Barbara County health officials are not disclosing the identity of the person who tested positive for Zika. Health officials say they are withholding details about the case to protect patient privacy.

The Santa Barbara County case is the second confirmed incident of a Central Coast resident contracting the Zika virus. Health officials confirmed last week that a Ventura County woman contracted the virus.

Doctors detected the virus after the Ventura County woman returned from travel in Latin America. Officials say she is not pregnant.

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Tragic, yet avoidable it seems.