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Four more Delawareans tested positive for the Zika virus, including an infant who got the illness while traveling abroad, state health officials said Thursday. That brings Delaware’s total to 15.
All cases were caused by mosquito bites contracted while traveling abroad. The state said officials have no evidence that mosquitoes in Delaware are transmitting the virus.
However, it is still possible for the adults to transmit the disease sexually, and health officials are instructing providers treating a patient with a positive test on how to prevent sexual transmission.
“At Public Health, our biggest concern remains for pregnant women because we know that a fetus infected with Zika can have devastating consequences,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of Delaware’s Division of Public Health. “We are still telling pregnant women to avoid countries where Zika transmission is active and their sexual partners to be tested if they recently traveled to those areas. If the sexual partner has confirmed Zika, the couple should abstain from sex or use condoms and other barrier methods until the baby is born.”
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All 15 people have recovered and are showing no long-term effects at this time, officials said. Nine of the 15 cases were recorded in New Castle County and six were in Kent and Sussex counties.
Zika is typically a mild illness, and most people do not develop symptoms. But it is dangerous for pregnant women because the virus can cause microcephaly, a condition where children are born with smaller than normal heads. It is passed from mother to baby in utero and causes severe birth defects and stillbirths.
The virus also is the only mosquito-borne illness that can be sexually transmitted.
Dr. Awe Maduka-Ezeh, the health department’s Zika Team Leader, said that the state is recommending that the infant’s pediatrician be extremely vigilant to monitor any potential problems, but there are no studies, so far, that suggest that infants may develop problems if bitten after birth.
Recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show there were 3,314 travel-associated Zika cases in the United States and 43 transmitted by local mosquitoes.
Zika prevention tips:
Visit de.gov/mosquito for more information about mosquito control.
Jen Rini can be reached at (302) 324-2386 or email@example.com. Follow @JenRini on Twitter.
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