SAN ANTONIO – Two new cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, bringing the number of cases in the county to three. The first case was confirmed Feb. 1.
Three other cases remain under investigation.
The people who contracted the virus traveled to countries where there are infected mosquitos, which does not include the United States.
"The Zika virus is not present in any of our mosquitos locally, so the only concern is if you are traveling out of the country and if you show symptoms," said Dr. Anil Mangla, assistant director of Metro Health's communicable diseases division.
Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The Zika virus is part of the same family of viruses that cause yellow fever, West Nile, chikungunya and dengue fever. Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
The virus can also be transmitted sexually. Metro Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend pregnant women and women who may become pregnant abstain from sex (vaginal, oral and anal) or use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy. Men who traveled from Zika-affected areas are recommended to abstain from sex or use condoms.
"We bring this up because it shows that the virus is in your blood for about one week, 10 days, and it's out. But it stays in your semen for about three months," Mangla said.
Mangla said right now, it takes about two to three weeks to get cases confirmed through the CDC, but if the emergency funding that President Barack Obama asked for is approved, they will be able to test locally.
"If it gets approved, one of the key factors in the budget is to actually have lab capacity," Mangla said. "So locally, we'll be able to test for that, which would make it much easier and efficient."
Mangla said the list of South American countries affected changes every day. Check the CDC website for an updated list of Zika-affected countries.
With no treatment or vaccine available, the only protection against Zika is to avoid travel to Zika-affected areas.
If you do travel to a country where Zika is present, the CDC advises strict adherence to mosquito protection measures:
- Use air conditioning or window/door screens
- Use mosquito repellent on skin and clothing, even during the day
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Empty standing water from outdoor containers (even small containers)
See your healthcare provider if you develop a fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes within two weeks after traveling. Be sure to tell your health care provider where you traveled.