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San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

SFDPH Health Advisory: Zika Virus

Mosquitoes associated with the Zika virus have been detected in the Bay Area, but none has been found to carry the disease linked to birth defects in newborns in South America.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that causes mild illness with fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis in approximately 20% of those who become infected. Outbreaks have occurred in locations in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. Cases in the United States (including California) have been diagnosed in returning travelers. Recently in Brazil, increased numbers of fetal deaths and newborns with microcephaly have been noted among mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. However, additional studies are needed to understand potential embryonic and fetal effects of Zika virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Currently: Mexico, Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama), South America (Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela), and the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Haiti, Martinique).

Pregnant women are advised to consider postponing travel to these locations, and all travelers are advised to take strict precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Actions Requested of All Clinicians

  1. Counsel pregnant women to consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing and counsel all travelers to these areas to use strict precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
  2. Consider Zika testing per CDC guidance. At this time, asymptomatic individuals will not be tested. Zika testing is indicated for pregnant women who have traveled to an area of Zika transmission and had symptoms of Zika virus, or if there are findings of fetal/newborn microcephaly with a history of maternal travel.
  3. Contact SFDPH for assistance if Zika testing is indicated per CDC guidance. Specimens cannot be sent directly to CDC, and testing must be coordinated by the local health department. Contact SFDPH Communicable Disease Control Unit (CDCU) 24/7 by calling (415) 554-2830.

Click here for the SFDPH Health Advisory issued on January 22, 2016.

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