Bringing Zika back: Florida's 1st sexual transmission of virus in 2017

Bringing Zika back: Florida's 1st sexual transmission of virus in 2017
Florida’s first sexually transmitted Zika infection of 2017 has been discovered, bringing the statewide number of cases to 90. The mosquito-borne fever has no vaccine, and infected babies may suffer lifelong disabilities, among other symptoms.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed the finding Tuesday. An individual in Pinellas County was exposed to the Zika virus through sex after their partner returned from a trip to Cuba. The partner fell ill with the common symptoms of the virus, according to health officials.

Cuba is currently listed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the countries with a Zika travel risk. This is the second confirmed sexually transmitted Zika case in the US.

With potential local transmission of the virus in mind, mosquito control authorities have taken the necessary actions to eliminate mosquitos in the area of Pinellas County where the infection was reported.

A total of 1,456 cases of Zika were reported in the US in 2016, with 1,100 being travel related, 285 being locally acquired and the rest being undetermined in source, according to Florida health officials.

Much is still unknown about Zika fever – a relative of dengue, West Nile viruses and yellow fever. Researchers do know that the virus is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitos, via sexual contact with an infected person or from a mother transmitting it to her fetus via the placenta, according to the CDC.

There were 46 known sexually transmitted cases in the country in 2016. No known locally-acquired cases have been reported in 2017.

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“There is no evidence of transmission through mosquitoes taking place anywhere in Florida,” the state health department said in a statement.

Florida has had 118 confirmed cases of Zika this year. Eighty-one of those involved pregnant women. The majority of the cases were travel related and occurred in 2016.

The first case of domestically transmitted Zika reported in 2017 was in Texas and had been transmitted through a mosquito bite, according to a press release by the Texas Health and Human Services Department.