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After Huge Gains, Zika Risk Still Present In the Americas

First Posted: Jun 12, 2017 03:44 PM EDT
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Zika could get worse this summer with stifling heat and plenty of wet breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Photo : Getty Images

Zika cases in the past year have been decreasing on the whole across North and South America, but we might not be out of the woods yet as we head into the warm summer months.

Florida, the state filled with swamps that breed the mosquitoes that spread Zika, hasn't investigated a new case of the illness in over a month. Last week, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an updated travel guidance that pregnant women or women attempting to become pregnant could now travel safely to South Florida.

Medical professionals are still on the alert and are advising their patients to be as well. Due to the nature of the illness, even when it seems like Zika has "disappeared" it can still wreak havoc because many adults don't show visible symptoms and it can linger for months in sex fluids exchanged between males to females.

As of May 24, 2017, a total of 5,300 cases of Zika virus have been reported in the continental United States and Hawaii according to the CDC. These cases include 224 locally transmitted mosquito-borne cases, 48 cases believed to be the result of sexual transmission, one case that was the result of a laboratory exposure, and one case that was the result of person-to-person transmission through an unknown route.

How To Protect Yourself If You Live In A Zika-Advisory Area

Women and women attempting to bear children are advised not to travel abroad in which the Zika virus has been reproted. These precautions are most important for pregnant women, those trying to get pregnant and their partners:

  • Couples in at risk areas should continue to use condoms "every time they have sex (including vaginal, anal, and oral sex)," the CDC writes.
  • Take extra steps to prevent mosquito bites
  • Have a continuing converstation about testing and potential symptoms with healthcare providers for up to 8 weeks after travel to a Zika hotspot or after a travel advisory has been lifted for a specific area.
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