HOUSTON - A total of 11 people have tested positive for the Zika virus in the city of Houston, according to an update Wednesday from local health officials.
The most recent case was confirmed Monday after a man in his early 30s tested positive for the virus following a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Among the other 10 people infected was a girl under the age of 10 who contracted the virus while in Honduras back in January.
The remaining people were a woman, 60 - 64, who visited Colombia; a man, 35 - 39, a woman, 40 - 45, and a woman, 25 - 30, who visited Honduras; a woman, 60 - 64, who had been in El Salvador; a man, 30 - 34, who had visited Central America; a man, 30 - 34, who had visited Puerto Rico; and a woman 55 - 60, who recently returned from Venezuela.
According to the City of Houston, these cases were confirmed between Dec. 22 and June 27.
The Zika virus is a disease spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, the Aedes mosquitoes. These are the same mosquitoes that spread other viruses like dengue and chikungunya.
Only about one in five people infected with the Zika virus will feel sick. In those that do, symptoms are usually mild and can include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes (conjunctivitis). Though Zika is primarily a mosquito-borne virus, spread of the virus through sexual contact has also been reported. If individuals have traveled to Zika-infected areas and suspect they have become infected with the virus, we recommend they use safe sex practices and notify their healthcare provider for further evaluation.
The World Health Organization estimates there could be up to 4 million cases of Zika in the Americas in the next year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel alert for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
• Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
• Women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult with their health care provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
"It is important to understand, there are several measures pregnant women can take," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said. "If you can delay travel and it does not affect your other family commitments, it is something they can consider.
Officials said those who need to travel can get advice from their physician and take personal protective measures, like wearing long sleeves and shirts and pants and using mosquito repellent.
Officials are discouraging travel to 22 infected areas, including Puerto Rico, for pregnant women and women off birth control. This warning may last for a few years.
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