MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT/NBC NEWS)- Two new cases of the Zika virus have been identified in Georgia, bringing the total number of travel-related cases in the state to three. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, all of those impacted have not been pregnant. With the two new cases, one of them had traveled to Guatemala and El Salvador, and the other had traveled to Columbia.
Tests results are pending for several other Georgia residents who have been to countries where there is a Zika outbreak.
STUDYING ZIKA VIRUS
Doctors from the Yale School of Public Health and the Hospital Geral Roberto Santos in Brazil detailed a case report in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases that suggests the Zika virus may lead to more severe problems than originally thought.
Zika, which is spread mainly through the bite of an infected mosquito, is strongly suspected as the cause of abnormally small heads and brains in some newborn babies.
Now, doctors in Brazil have published details of a case in which Zika was found in a severely malformed stillborn baby. The fetus had signs of severe tissue swelling, the first report to show a possible link between Zika and damage outside the central nervous system. The infant was also missing major portions of the brain.
Researchers say much more work will need to be done before confirming the link between Zika and these physical problems.
TRANSMITTING ZIKA VIRUS SEXUALLY
Health officials say sexual transmission of the Zika virus appears to be more common than previously thought.
The Centers for Disease Control is investigating 14 new cases of Zika in the United States. All appear to be cases of sexual transmission.
“In each of the episodes, a man was traveling to a Zika affected area, developed symptoms that were consistent with Zika, and within two week’s of the man’s symptoms, the female partner developed symptoms consistent with Zika virus,” explains the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat.
Several of those cases involve pregnant women.
The virus has been spreading rapidly in Latin America and is strongly suspected as the cause of severe birth defects.
The CDC is advising expectant mothers to use condoms or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy if their partners have traveled to areas where Zika is spreading.
While sexual transmission is possible, infectious disease specialists say it’s almost always spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.
PREVENTING ZIKA (Source: Georgia Department of Public Health)
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers should check CDC travel advisories for their destinations and take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitos:
· Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
· Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535 (use as directed)
· Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents)
· Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms