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Health

More Cases of Travel-Related Zika Confirmed in Missouri

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Two more cases of Zika virus have been confirmed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.  Both were women, and one is pregnant. They had both been to areas where Zika virus is being transmitted locally, specifically Mexico and Nicaragua. 

To date, there have been 29 travel-related cases of Zika in Missouri. There have been no reported cases of Zika virus contracted from a mosquito bite in the state.

According to the health department, nearly 80 percent of people infected with the virus won’t have any symptoms. When they do, typically symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, joint soreness and red eyes.

International health officials have found a connection between pregnant women contracting the virus and a birth defect called microcephaly in their newborn infants.

According to the CDC, Zika virus has the potential to be spread through a mosquito bite, through unprotected sexual contact and through blood transfusion, and an infected pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy.

There’s not currently a vaccine for Zika virus. The department says the best prevention measure is to avoid mosquito bites in areas with ongoing transmission.  Ways to avoid mosquito bites while outdoors include wearing EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET, wearing pants and long sleeves, or remaining indoors in an air conditioned environment.

The CDC is recommending pregnant women avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas which include areas of Florida and countries ranging from Mexico into the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

All travelers returning from these areas should take precautions like wearing EPA-registered insect repellent to avoid mosquitoes. Additionally, all travelers to these areas should abstain from sex or use condoms for at least 8 weeks after returning. If a traveler or a traveler's partner is pregnant or trying to become pregnant, a doctor should be consulted for specific guidance. Also, returning travelers should immediately contact their health care providers if at any point they feel they may have Zika virus. 

For more information about Zika virus:  health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/zika/.