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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Zika virus continues to be a threat to the United States, especially in Florida. The number of Zika cases has reached 3,176, but as of right now, Florida is the only state where mosquitoes are transmitting the disease. The number of cases in the US territories has reached over 17,000, with 98 percent of these locally acquired cases happening in Puerto Rico.
Zika Virus in the US in the Fall
Just because the summer is over in the United States does not mean that the risk of Zika-carrying mosquitoes is gone. Because the above-average temperatures this summer has continued into the fall season, there is a chance that insects will be present longer than usual. According to the chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association, as long as the weather remains warm and humid, mosquitoes will continue to remain a concern.
States with the Highest Number of Travel-Associated Zika Cases
The two states that have had the highest number of travel-associated Zika cases are New York and Florida. Other states along the East Coast have seen a higher number of cases compared to the Midwest. It is believed that New York has seen a high number of cases because a large number of New Yorkers travel back and forth to Zika hot zones. While New York has seen a higher number of cases (685 compared to 596), there is a bigger concern in Florida as it is the only state that has seen locally acquired cases. The travel advisory has been lifted from Wynwood, Florida, which was the first town in the continental United States to have a local outbreak of the virus. The CDC still advises pregnant women to remain cautious and to postpone any non-essential travel to Miami-Dade County.
Educating Yourself about Zika
While it is known that mosquitoes are the primary carriers of the virus, it is also crucial for people to understand that not much is known about the threat of the virus being sexually transmitted. Health officials are concerned that if sex becomes a common means of spreading the virus, it will be exponentially harder to contain Zika. Men and women who travel to Zika hot spots are advised to abstain from sex for at least eight weeks or to use barrier protection, no matter if they are experiencing any symptoms or not. Pregnant women whose partner has been to a Zika zone should be using condoms or abstaining from sex for the entire duration of the pregnancy.
Recent studies have been conducted to see how long the virus is present in the body. Both studies tested the semen of men who contracted Zika in Haiti in early 2016. The semen of one of the men still tested positive for the illness 188 days after he first experienced symptoms, while the other man’s semen tested positive 181 days after experiencing symptoms. These studies show that both men have tested positive twice as long as previously documented studies.
Talking to Your Doctor about Zika
Because the Zika epidemic has been rapid and so much remains unknown, it is not always easy for patients and doctors to talk openly about the disease. If you are thinking about your fertility options, it is crucial that you speak to your fertility specialist if you think you may have a chance of being exposed to the disease. Because Zika is known to cause birth defects, it is crucial to discuss any travel plans and prevention tips with your fertility doctor. For more information about your fertility options and to help understand the best treatment option for you, be sure to contact the experts at Reproductive Specialists of New York today.