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First Case of Travel-Related Zika Confirmed in Santa Barbara County

Transmission of the virus through mosquitos, however, isn’t a concern in the county, according to the Public Health Department

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced Wednesday that the county has its first confirmed case of travel-related Zika virus.

In a statement, the department confirmed that the resident, a pregnant woman, had contracted the virus while traveling in Central America.

Zika came to the forefront of public awareness last year when an outbreak in Brazil led to an ongoing epidemic in South America and Central America.

“There is currently no risk for contracting Zika virus in Santa Barbara County via infected mosquitoes,” Santa Barbara County Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean said in a statement.

“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,” Dean said.

Further details about the county’s case won’t be released for privacy reasons, the department said.

California has seen no mosquito-transmitted cases of the virus, which can cause birth defects and neurological problems. Florida, however, has been dealing with more than 40 cases of locally-acquired Zika over the past few weeks.

The virus is primarily spread through the Aedes genus of mosquito, which the Public Health Department said is being more closely watched by the county’s Mosquito and Vector Management District.

The two Aedes species of concern, the yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito, are not currently found in the county, the department said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who are infected with the disease do not show any symptoms and recover without any special treatment.

Infection in pregnant women has been health officials and doctors’ primary concern, however, as the disease can cause brain deformities and microcephaly in unborn babies, the latter resulting in smaller-than-normal heads.

Symptoms in adults can include fever, rash, joint pain and eye redness.

As the disease can also be spread through sexual contact, local, state and federal health agencies all encourage protection during sexual activity if someone has traveled to an area with Zika, is pregnant or is considering getting pregnant.

According to the Public Health Department, if someone has concerns about their own risk for infection, they should contact their primary care provider.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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