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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Pregnant Woman Is Napa Valley’s First Zika Case

NAPA, Calif. (CN) - A pregnant woman in Napa County has tested positive for the Zika virus after traveling to Central America, health officials said Wednesday.

This is the area's first confirmed case of Zika, which has spread rapidly throughout Latin America and the Caribbean since initially being reported in Brazil in mid-2015.

The virus is particularly dangerous for pregnant women due to its suspected connection to microcephaly , a congenial disorder that results in abnormally small heads and potential brain damage.

Health officials cautioned Napa County residents that the woman acquired the virus while traveling abroad within the past three months, and that local infections are not occurring.

"This Zika virus case is not a threat to public health. There is no active transmission of Zika virus in Napa County, and the two kinds of mosquitoes that transmit the virus have not been found here," Dr. Karen Relucio, Napa County's health officer, said in a statement.

Following outbreaks abroad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women use condoms during sexual contact or abstain from sex if their sexual partner has recently returned from an area experiencing active Zika transmissions.

The agency is currently reviewing nine pregnant women who have been infected with Zika, and investigating 10 additional cases.

"Anyone who is planning to travel to a country with active Zika virus transmission should consult with their health care provider before leaving, especially if they are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant," Relucio said.

In addition to microcephaly, Guillain-Barre syndrome and hydranencepahaly have also been connected to the virus.

Guillain-Barre is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the nervous system, resulting in temporary paralysis and death in some cases. The disorder can affect infants and adults alike.

Hydranencephaly is a disorder that leads to the complete absence or significant reduction in brain tissue, as well as unusual pooling of fluids within the cranial cavity.

Experts believe further research is still needed, though existing evidence of a connection between Zika and the three disorders continues to mount.

California health officials have reported six cases of Zika infections, each contracted while traveling abroad.

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