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Federal Officials Warn City Officials to be Aware of Zika Threat

June 3, 2016
U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention and Homeland Security representatives say that the Zika virus is not cause for panic — but that it must be taken seriously by state and local officials.
 
 
As of June 1, 591 people in the United States and another 939 in its territories had tested positive for Zika virus disease, according to the CDC. Of those, 310 are pregnant women, 168 of whom are in the continental United States.
 
None of those cases were acquired within the 50 states. The CDC and Homeland Security are monitoring Southern states, like Florida and Texas, and states like California with high numbers of overseas travelers.
 
No vaccine yet exists for Zika, which is spread to people most often through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, but may also be spread sexually by an infected man. Four out of five people who are infected suffer no symptoms or mild symptoms, like fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes, for up to a week.
 
Based on reports from Brazil, in about 29 percent of cases involving pregnant women, there appears to be a link between Zika and miscarriages or serious birth defects. These include microcephaly, in which a baby is born with a smaller head and results in children never being able to walk, talk or feed themselves. According to the CDC models, 1-13 percent of Zika infections in women during their first trimester of pregnancy result in microcephaly.
 
Federal officials said in a White House call with local officials on Tuesday that their primary concern was about pregnant women, their partners and developing fetuses. Much remains unknown about Zika, officials said, including other risk factors and the long-term impact on babies infected in utero.
 
Two types of tests are being used: the first a blood or urine test to confirm the presence of the virus, the second an antibody test to confirm symptoms.
 
Limiting mosquito populations will be crucial to combatting the virus. The invasive Aedes mosquito, which can transmit Zika after biting an infected person, is a particularly problematic foe because it is resistant to a number of pesticides and bites during the daytime. The eggs that the mosquitoes lay in the water in buckets and other containers can survive through months of dry weather.
 
Aedes mosquitos have been detected in 12 California counties: Alameda, Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Madera, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo and Tulare.
 
Cities are urged to remain in regular contact with their county health officials and mosquito and vector control districts to learn how they can convey mosquito and virus information to residents.
 
Local officials can learn more about the virus with information available from the CDC. The State Department of Public Health’s Zika information online as well. It includes an outreach toolkit.
 
The state of California’s Vector-Borne Disease Section webpage includes a regularly updated map of Aedes mosquito infestations throughout California.
 
The Obama administration has requested $1.9 billion for Zika response, in part to bolster state and local efforts. So far, Congress has not acted upon that request.
 


 
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