Tuesday marks the day of the first day a case of Zika being locally transmitted was confirmed in the United States. In Dallas, Texas, county officials announce that the disease was contracted locally by a person who was intimate with an infected person who had recently visited Venezuela Prior to this case, only two additional confirmed cases of Zika tied to sex have been documented.
As it continues to spread at an alarming rate, medical professionals continue to research the illness, risk factors and how it is spread. The person was infected with condition caused by sexual contact with a person with the mosquito-borne illness.
The CDC hopes to provide more information on preventing the spread of the illness following a thorough review. Researchers are expected to focus more on male sexual partners of pregnant women in their efforts to control the spread of the disease. Preliminary research rules out the chances of the illness posing a threat to a developing fetus.
CDC Director Tom Frieden says that the condition could be spread through sexual contact or a transfusion. It is believed that the virus could remain in the system for at least a week. Mosquitoes carrying the disease are primarily responsible for the spread of the illness. The disease is spread through the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Individuals are encouraged to take additional steps to prevent contracting the illness such as using protection and safeguarding against mosquito bites. Nursing women may be at risk of transmitting the disease through breast milk. The illness can also be contracted through laboratory exposure. Pregnant travelers are at an even greater risk of developing the condition. Women who have traveled to certain regions are advised to avoid becoming pregnant for two years in the event that they have been exposed to the illness while traveling abroad.
Zika is considered a major public health concern because the disease has been linked to birth disorders. The neurological birth disorder attributed to the illness is expected to become a risks to pregnant women. The disorder causes children to be born with smaller heads. Cases of the condition, microcephaly, has been prevalent in French Polynesia and Brazil. The Zika disease has also be tied to another birth disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition that can lead to paralysis.
Conservative estimates predict that 3 million people in the US will become infected with the illness. According to WHO, an estimated 4 million people in America are at risk of becoming infected with the illness next year. Researchers will likely continue to focus on areas where there are high concentrations of the illness. Countries like El Salvador, French Polynesia, and Brazil where certain birth disorders tied to the illness have risen as the number of Zika cases of risen will be closely monitored.