- Previously CDC said people had to be tested after visiting outbreak zones
- Now, with a new outbreak zone, the CDC has expanded its advice
- All pregnant women need a Zika test if they visited Miami-Dade since Aug 1
All pregnant women who have lived in, visited, or traveled through Miami since August 1 need to be tested for Zika, Florida officials warn.
The county is the only area in the continental U.S. where mosquitoes have been spreading the virus since the summer.
Last week officials announced a new outbreak zone, also in Miami-Dade County.
Two of the new infected patients are pregnant women.
Last week officials announced a new outbreak zone, also in Miami-Dade County. Two of the new infected patients are pregnant women
Now officials are calling for widespread testing for anyone who has been anywhere near the county – not just the outbreak zones – to prevent further spread and potentially devastating consequences for the health of unborn babies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously urged testing for pregnant women who had been in one of the county’s Zika ‘hot zones.’
On Wednesday, it extended the advice to the entire county.
New cases continue to come in from the Miami area ‘and we want to be cautious,’ said the CDC’s Dr. Denise Jamieson.
There have been more than 150 Zika cases in the county blamed on local mosquitoes.
Zika is mainly spread by mosquitoes, but can be spread through sex. Most infected people don’t get sick. It can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. But infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects.
The new testing advice also extends to pregnant women who weren’t in Miami-Dade themselves, but had unprotected sex with someone who had been in the county recently.
The advice for travel to Miami-Dade has not changed: Pregnant women should postpone travel to the county if possible and stay out of the two remaining ‘red zones’ – Miami Beach and an area just north of the Little Haiti neighborhood.
Until this summer, the only cases of Zika in the continental U.S. were connected to travel to areas with Zika epidemics, mostly the Caribbean and Latin America. Of the more than 3,900 cases to date, nearly 900 were pregnant women.
Dr. Neil Silverman, a UCLA professor of obstetrics, said doctors are probably already taking precautions with their patients who traveled to the Florida county.
Beginning in July, ‘I started treating Miami-Dade County like Brazil,’ said Silverman, who’s been advising California health officials on Zika issues. ‘If a patient had been anywhere in the Miami area, I offered testing.’
LATEST ON ZIKA: WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS
HOW DO PEOPLE GET IT?
Zika is transmitted to people through the bite of infected female mosquitoes, primarily the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
It is the same type that spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are found in all countries in the Americas except Canada and continental Chile.
Zika will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.
The virus can also be transmitted through sex, from either a male or female partner who has been infected.
A few cases of apparent infection via blood transfusion have been reported.
A mother can pass the virus to her unborn fetus.
Current research indicates the greatest microcephaly risk is associated with infection during the first trimester of pregnancy, but health officials have warned an impact could be seen in later weeks.
Recent studies have shown evidence of Zika in amniotic fluid, placenta and fetal brain tissue.
HOW DO YOU TREAT ZIKA?
There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika infection.
Companies and scientists are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine for Zika.
However, a preventative shot is not expected to be ready for widespread use for at least two or three years.
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS?
The CDC concluded that infection with the Zika virus in pregnant women is a cause of the birth defect microcephaly.
Microcephaly is a condition defined by unusually small heads that can result in developmental problems, and other severe brain abnormalities in babies.
The CDC said that since the causal relationship had been established, several important questions must still be answered with studies that could take years.
The World Health Organization in an updated assessment said the ‘most likely explanation’ is that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities including microcephaly.
Brazil recently reported 1,949 confirmed cases of microcephaly believed to be linked to Zika infections in pregnant women.
It is investigating more than 3,030 suspected cases of microcephaly.
The WHO also updated its guidelines to say the infection is a trigger of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological disorder that can result in paralysis.
Its previous statement, based on a rapid assessment of evidence, said there was strong scientific consensus that Zika virus caused GBS, microcephaly and other neurological disorders.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
People infected with Zika may have a mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and fatigue that can last for two to seven days.
But as many as 80 per cent of people infected never develop symptoms.
HOW CAN ZIKA BE CONTAINED?
Efforts to control the spread of the virus focus on eliminating mosquito breeding sites and taking precautions against mosquito bites such as using insect repellent and mosquito nets.
U.S. and international health officials have advised pregnant women to avoid travel to Latin American and Caribbean countries, sections of Miami, Florida in the United States and Singapore where they may be exposed to Zika.
They are also advising that men and women who have traveled to Zika outbreak areas use condoms or abstain from sex for six months to prevent sexual transmission of the virus.
HOW WIDESPREAD IS THE OUTBREAK?
Active Zika outbreaks have been reported in at least 59 countries or territories, most of them in the Americas, according to the CDC. Brazil has been the country most affected.
Africa: 1 country
Americas: 49 countries
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bonaire, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saba, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelmy, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Venezuela.
Asia: 1 country
Oceania/Pacific Islands: 8 countries
American Samoa, Fiji, Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga.
HISTORY OF ZIKA
The Zika virus is found in tropical locales with large mosquito populations.
Outbreaks of Zika have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Southern Asia and the Western Pacific.
The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys and was first identified in people in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania, according to the WHO.
ANY OTHER ZIKA-RELATED COMPLICATIONS?
Zika has also been associated with other neurological disorders, including serious brain and spinal cord infections.
The long-term health consequences of Zika infection are unclear.
Other uncertainties surround the incubation period of the virus and how Zika interacts with other viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes, such as dengue.