Santa Rosa, CA – April 28, 2016 – Today, the Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) confirmed an individual tested positive for the Zika virus in Sonoma County. This individual is the first case of Zika in our county. While traveling in Central America the Sonoma County resident was bit by mosquitoes. Spread of the Zika virus occurs primarily through infected Aedes mosquitoes which are present throughout the Caribbean, South and Central America.
The mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus have not been detected in Sonoma County. Currently, there is no risk for Zika to spread by mosquitoes here. However, the Zika virus can also be spread through sexual contact and from a mother to her unborn baby. “We anticipate more cases. Even though there is currently no risk for local transmission, our residents could be exposed to Zika virus through travel, sexual contact with travelers and from mothers to their unborn babies” stated Sonoma County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Karen Holbrook. “We want our residents to understand the risks and to take steps to protect themselves, their sexual partners and their babies.”
In most people the illness is mild. The most common signs and symptoms of Zika virus infection are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. However, rare neurological syndromes have been associated with Zika virus infection and during pregnancy, infection can lead to early pregnancy loss, microcephaly, absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye and impaired growth in fetuses and infants.
Being careful about travel is the most effective way to protect oneself from Zika. Everyone should follow travel guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In particular, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should consider postponing travel to areas where the Zika virus is active. If travel is necessary, steps should be taken to avoid mosquitoes. If a pregnant woman’s male sexual partner has traveled to an area with active Zika spread, they should work together to abstain or use condoms correctly at all times throughout the pregnancy. “Everybody should follow these recommendations: if you must travel, do it safely; if you have sex, do it safely too,” said Dr. Holbrook.
DHS is working with local healthcare providers to test for the Zika virus. The Department previously issued Health Advisoriesnotifying local providers about Zika and testing protocols. In addition, the Department is coordinating with the Marin Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District on education and response plans. The Vector Control District has a mosquito surveillance program underway for the detection of invasive Aedes mosquitoes. The peak time of year for mosquitoes is here in our community, and individuals should take precautions to help control mosquitoes - such as removing standing water from around their home. Also, daytime biting mosquitoes should be reported to the Vector Control District (1-800-231-3236 or online).
Due to privacy concerns, DHS will not release the individual’s name, place of residence, age or any other identifying information.
DHS will continue to provide updates on Zika as we learn more information.
The list of countries with active Zika spread is changing each week so please visit the CDC’s website for the most updated information. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information.