Zika Virus Could Impact Two More Florida Counties

The Centers for Disease Control last removed the warnings of active mosquito Zika transmission in December.

Since a large outbreak in Brazil, would-be moms and their sex partners have been told to avoid travel to Zika areas, use condoms or abstain from sex. Unlike blood donations that can be screened for the virus, there is now no screening technique to test Zika presence in semen.

Dr Matthew J. Kuehnert, director of the CDC's Office of Blood, Organ and Other Tissue Safety, said at the briefing that "there have been no suspected cases from donor semen", but that an analysis found "cases of people who are residents of Palm Beach County and Broward County in which the exposure was uncertain".

The CDC said that resident travel between the three counties, and the difficulty of pinpointing where a person may have contracted Zika from a mosquito, makes it very likely that the virus spread well beyond the limited zones in Miami-Dade identified by Florida health officials previous year. But the CDC said sperm donations might be infected with Zika throughout the state - meaning many people, especially women, could still be at risk.

The latest report from the CDC mentions that sperm donated in three Florida counties since June 15, 2016 may be infected with the Zika virus. Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause brain abnormalities, microcephaly and congenital Zika syndrome, a pattern of conditions in the baby that includes brain abnormalities, eye defects, hearing loss and limb defects.

There is no evidence of a pregnant woman being infected by Zika through a sperm donation, and such a risk is considered low, CDC officials said.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates sperm donations, and previously advised sperm banks they shouldn't accept donors if they had been diagnosed with Zika or had been to an area with widespread Zika within the past six months.

Of particular concern is Zika's persistence in reproductive tissue, particularly semen. Some 221 people got Zika from mosquitoes in the continental US last year, most in the Miami area. The residents may have traveled to Miami-Dade, but did not remember doing so "due to daily activities through the tri-county area", she said.

Most cases of Zika infection in the United States are travel related and as people continue to travel to tropical areas where the Aedes mosquito is more common, the United States will continue to have cases of Zika virus throughout the country.

Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers.

  • Lila Blake