#4: Florida Residents at Increased Risk for Zika Virus Infection Since June 2016
In July 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed
active local Zika virus transmission in Miami-Dade County. But what started as a handful of cases in one county quickly progressed to include hundreds of infections throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, Pinellas, and Palm Beach counties.
Last month, the CDC put out a statement confirming that Zika virus has, in fact, been circulating since June 2016. According to the CDC, Florida residents are at an increased risk of acquiring the mosquito-borne infection due to “local travel to areas of active transmission in Florida and challenges associated with defining the sources of exposure.” Adding to this is new information that Zika is known to persist in human semen longer than any other bodily fluid for prolonged periods, which increases the risk of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.
Because Zika can be transmitted through semen by several modes of sexual intercourse, men and women alike are at an increased risk of contracting the virus regardless of mosquito exposure. In light of this and since a vast majority of infected individuals do not become symptomatic, there may be, in fact, be more Zika cases than reported. And so, a Florida resident who has never travelled to a Zika-endemic Florida county may still be at risk of contracting the life-changing infection from an asymptomatic male. The CDC also confirmed that females can infect their male sexual partners with the virus. And, although no female-to-female transmission has been reported as of yet, the CDC states that it is “biologically plausible.”
The Zika virus can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, and so the CDC and other health organizations, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have been actively screening blood donations in all 50 US states and Puerto Rico for the virus. Unfortunately, “testing for tissue donors, including semen donors, is not currently available; however, tissue donors are asked travel history questions, and if they have travelled to or live in an area of active Zika transmission, they would be determined ineligible under current FDA guidance.”
To read more about Zika in Florida, click here