San Diego County officials are renewing their warnings for pregnant women, women who could be pregnant and those considering pregnancy to avoid traveling to known Zika transmission areas after a baby with severe birth defects connected to the virus was born in San Diego County.
The infant marks the first born in San Diego County with microcephaly associated with the Zika virus. The mother contracted the Zika virus while traveling in a foreign country where the virus is common.
Microcephaly stunts brain development in fetuses, causing babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brains. The children typically have other developmental and neurological health problems as well. Microcephaly has multiple causes.
“Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and speak with a health care provider upon return,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, in a statement.
Authorities are not releasing details on the case due to privacy concerns.
The Zika virus can be transmitted through mosquito bites from an infected mosquito or through sexual activity.
Eighty-seven travel-associated cases of Zika have been reported as of March 24, according to the HHSA.
Four of five who contract Zika do not show symptoms. Those who do show symptoms report having a fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. In most cases, the illness is mild and symptoms last for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
To avoid mosquito bites, the HHSA recommends doing the following:
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol for long last protection when traveled. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should use an EPA-registered insect repellent.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
- Use air conditioning and keep windows closed, if possible.
- Reduce the number of mosquitoes outside by emptying standing water from containers like flowerpots.
To find a list of countries and territories with known Zika transmission, click here.