By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The recent Zika case in Cullman has been determined as being due to foreign travel; but the specter of Zika becoming endemic to the United States appears to be becoming a reality as fourteen cases in South Florida have been attributed to native Florida mosquitos.
State Senator Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) said in a statement, “Wanted to update you all on the ZIKA issue that was identified in Cullman Co. I have been communicating with Dr. Tom Miller, the director of AL Public Health. The case in Cullman Co. was contracted while the resident was travelling out of the United States – NOT in Alabama. That is very important.”
Sen. Bussman said, “AL Public Health is closely monitoring the patient. The patient is considered contagious for blood transmission by mosquitoes from 7-10 days. So the patient is not to be exposed to a possible mosquito bite during that time period. Also, mosquitoes are somewhat like homebodies. They will only travel about 150 yds. So AL Public Health has done a very thorough inspection of the property within that radius and have eliminated all possible mosquito breeding grounds such as standing water, etc. They have done a great job with containment. This is all good news. Just continue to use common sense, dispose of standing water and use mosquito repellant when outside and exposed to possible mosquito bites. The only reported cases of ZIKA from mosquito transmission in the US has been in extreme south FL. I’ll keep you posted if other info arises.”
The number of Florida cases has increased since then to fourteen….all local transmission in the Miami area.
The Alabama Department of Public Health said in a statement, “Mosquitoes are vectors for diseases, which means they can transmit diseases from one human or animal to another. The mosquito population is hard to control, and they often develop resistance to insecticides, making the containment and elimination of mosquito-borne diseases difficult. According to the American Mosquito Control Association, more than one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year.”
The have been fifteen cases of Zika diagnosed to this point in Alabama but all of them were due to foreign travel.
Zika can also be transmitted sexually. It is possible that the disease can be transmitted from blood transfusions and from mother to unborn child.
The Alabama Department of Public Health is recommending that: pregnant women should not travel to Zika-affected areas; men who have traveled to Zika-affected areas and have pregnant partners should abstain from sex or consistently and correctly use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy for all forms of sexual activity; and men who have traveled to Zika-affected areas and have non-pregnant partners should consider abstaining from sexual activity or consistently and correctly use condoms.
On Monday, August 1, the US Centers for Disease Control recommended that women who have been in the Miami area recently refrain from becoming pregnant for at least eight weeks. The CDC is urging that women who are pregnant, might be pregnant, or could become pregnant avoid travel to the area of Miami where the virus is being transmitted. Of the fourteen confirmed cases in Florida 12 are men and 2 are women.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health only one in five people infected with Zika virus develop the disease and show symptoms. “The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and deaths are rare. Zika is in a family of viruses called flaviviruses that includes dengue, and both share similar clinical presentations.”
Zika was first identified last year in Brazil. There over 1,700 cases of microcephaly (a severe birth defect) have been attributed to the disease. The virus has been spreading rapidly since then and now includes much of South and Central America as well as Puerto Rico and now South Florida.
Alabama is home to millions of blood sucking insects and in theory would seem like an ideal breeding ground for the disease though much needs to still be learned about the virus at this point.
(Original reporting by Reuters and Fox News contributed to this report)