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Florida Residents at Increased Risk for Zika Virus Infection Since June 2016

MAR 16, 2017 | SARAH ANWAR
In collaboration with the Florida Department of health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that residents of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties have been at an increased risk of contracting Zika, since June 15, 2016.
In an official statement, the CDC reported that Broward and Palm Beach county residents have been at an increased risk of contracting the Zika virus due to “local travel to areas of active transmission in Florida and challenges associated with defining the sources of exposure.” The statement then goes on to explain that this heightened risk of contracting the Zika virus is “particularly relevant for semen because of evidence regarding the persistence of Zika virus in this reproductive tissue.” In addition, prolonged Zika virus in semen means there is an increased risk of transmitting the virus to a sexual partner, which may or may not have severe consequences.
Infection with the Zika virus can be life-changing for pregnant women, their developing fetuses, and those with familial ties to both. Not only does the virus cause devastating neurological changes in infected developing fetuses, but like many other sexually-transmitted infections, Zika virus infection may increase the risk of becoming socially ostracized. Like those infected with HIV, women (especially pregnant women) infected with the Zika virus are sometimes seen as careless, according to Carmen Zorrilla, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Puerto Rico. In fact, in an exclusive interview with Contagion®, Dr. Zorrilla discussed the social impact Zika infection has on many pregnant women in Puerto Rico, where Zika is endemic. She stated, “I think there’s a parallel between Zika and HIV not because they are similar viruses or any of that, but the social impact and our response. There’s stigma; the pregnant women with Zika infection do not disclose. They’re afraid. They’re afraid of you to judge them [and say], ‘why did you get Zika? Weren’t you using condoms? Weren’t you using mosquito repellent? You did not take care of yourself.’” Dr. Zorrilla goes on to say that in many cases, men left their pregnant partners after discovering that they had contracted the mosquito-borne infection.

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