8 Zika virus cases on the Central Coast

December 22, 2016

mosquitoHealth officials have confirmed a total of eight cases of the Zika virus in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Seven of the eight locals who contracted the virus are Santa Barbara County residents.

Local public health workers confirmed the first two cases in August. First, a pregnant Santa Barbara County woman contracted Zika while in Central America. Then, a non-pregnant woman tested positive for the virus after visiting a region of Mexico where Zika is transmitted.

In recent months, officials have released little information about the individual cases on the Central Coast. But, in October, SLO County public health workers disclosed that a person who lives in North County contracted Zika while visiting Mexico. That person reportedly developed symptoms five days after returning home.

Of the first five Santa Barbara County residents who contracted Zika, four were women and one was a man. All eight of the confirmed cases in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have been travel-related.

As of Dec. 16, there have been 440 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in California in 2015 and 2016, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Three California residents have contracted Zika through sexual activity. A total of 66 Zika-infected Californians are pregnant women. Additionally, there have have been three infants born with Zika in California.

No one has contracted Zika from mosquitoes in California.

Los Angeles County with 99 cases and San Diego County with 73 cases lead in confirmed Zika cases in California. No other county has more than 32 confirmed cases.

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

The virus can also be spread through sexual activity and 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.

San Luis Obispo County public health officials are currently warning holiday travelers, particularly those heading to Mexico, to take necessary precautions. Travelers can get Zika updates from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by texting PLAN to (855) 255-5606.

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Now, this really bugs me!