Zika News and Update: Pennsylvania Health Officials Remind Travelers Virus Is Still A Threat; Details Here!

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Mar 14, 2017 12:03 PM EDT

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still places a travel alert for areas the where mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus could transmit it to people. (Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Latest updates have revealed that Pennsylvania health officials are warning travelers heading to warm destinations for vacation, to be cautious and remember that Zika is still out there. Both federal and state health officials have cautioned that Zika Virus, which is linked to serious birth defects, is still in existence.

According to Lancaster Online, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still places a travel alert for areas the where mosquitoes that spread the disease could transmit it to people. According to the report, the list of such areas includes parts of Texas and Florida, and also Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and nearly all of Central and South America.

Officials advise that pregnant women should consider postponing non-essential trips to the aforementioned areas and other travelers should also take extra precautions against mosquito bites both during the trip and three weeks after returning, to avoid spreading the virus.

However, since the Zika Virus can also be transmitted sexually, the officials have cautioned travelers to avoid unprotected sex with a woman who is or may become pregnant for at least six months after being in a Zika-infected region.

"The threat of the Zika virus exists in every part of the state due to global travel," the emergency preparedness public information officer of the state Department of Health, Nate Wardle said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently stated that the Zika virus has made certain types of birth defects 20 times more likely in the United States. This is not without a previous rate of 3 per 1,000 births which then rose to 60 per 1,000 births among women who had contracted Zika virus.

The most common of this defect is known as microcephaly, which is characterized by giving birth to children with abnormally small heads and brains. Although mosquito transmission is yet to be documented in Pennsylvania, to date department data reveals that there have been 177 confirmed cases of Zika Virus since the state started tracking the disease last year.  It has also been reported that there is another 32 probable cases of Zika Virus in the state.

Even though the department does not provide local details on these cases, local health officials revealed in November that 12 pregnant women in Lancaster County had the disease but there was no report of any associated birth defects, according to LancTalk.

The CDC also noted that there have been 5,109 cases of Zika virus in the continental United States, which includes 1,143 cases in pregnant women, resulting in 47 babies born with birth defects and 5 pregnancy losses with birth defects. The CDC have revealed that there have been nearly 37,000 cases in Puerto Rico, which has strong ties with Lancaster area, but updates on pregnancy outcome is still not available.

Also Read; Brazil Yellow Fever Outbreak Update: United States Health Experts Currently Monitoring The Deadly Disease

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