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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 9:53 am | Fair 58º


Second Travel-Related Zika Case Confirmed in Santa Barbara County

Two cases of travel-related Zika virus have been confirmed in Santa Barbara County, health officials said Wednesday. 

The Santa Barbara County Health Department announced that a non-pregnant woman had contracted the virus while recently traveling to a region of Mexico. Officials did not release the area of Mexico where the transmission had occurred.

Ninety specimens have been submitted to Santa Barbara County Public Health Laboratory for Zika virus, and more than 70 of those specimens have met state requirements for testing, according to Public Health Department officials.

Public Health anticipates an increase in the number of travel-related Zika cases as healthcare providers follow recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to screen individuals at risk, according to public information officer Ellen Willis-Conger.

Residents may see Mosquito and Vector Management District of Santa Barbara employees placing traps around the community as they continue to test mosquito population.

“Trapping and testing of mosquitoes in Santa Barbara County has not shown any evidence that Zika-carrying mosquitoes are present at this time,” Willis-Conger said.  

Zika is primarily transmitted to humans through bites from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (known as yellow fever mosquitoes) and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes (known as Asian tiger mosquitoes), however, the virus can also be spread through sexual contact.

The virus has spread in countries across Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, Mexico, and South and Central America. 

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

Eighty percent of people who get infected with the virus do not experience fever, skin rash, eye redness, headache, and achy joints said Charity Dean, a SBCHD health officer.  

“The vast majority of people have mild flu-like symptoms that recover spontaneously," she said. "It’s treated through supportive care that is similar to treating influenza."

The greatest concern is for pregnant women and their unborn babies because the virus can cause birth defects, including abnormally small heads and brain deformities.

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika, although research is underway.

“Research is now under human trial,” Dean said. “There are three phases of human trial and it will be around two to three years until we have a vaccine, but hopefully sooner.”

Santa Barbara’s first travel-related Zika case was reported last week after a pregnant woman visited Central America, according to Public Health officials. 

For more information regarding Zika virus prevention, transmission and risks, refer to the Public Health Department website here.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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