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Third Zika virus case confirmed in Merced County

How Zika spreads (and who’s to blame)

The mosquito kills nearly 750,000 people each year. Malaria is the cause for the majority of these deaths, but a Zika outbreak has the Americas scared of this insect. This is how the insect spreads disease to its victims. Credit: Sohail Al-Jamea
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The mosquito kills nearly 750,000 people each year. Malaria is the cause for the majority of these deaths, but a Zika outbreak has the Americas scared of this insect. This is how the insect spreads disease to its victims. Credit: Sohail Al-Jamea

A third case of the Zika Virus has been confirmed in Merced County by officials at the Merced County Department of Public Health.

A little more than a week ago Department of Public Health officials confirmed the first two cases of Zika virus in the county.

County public health officials confirmed the third case Wednesday during telephone interviews with the Sun-Star, however they said they became aware of a third patient some time last week. All three have received treatment and have since recovered, authorities said.

After traveling to countries having active Zika transmissions, all three residents became ill and experienced mild symptoms, according to county officials, and all fully recovered after receiving treatments.

“We definitely want everyone in Merced County to be as aware and knowledgeable about Zika,” said Richard Rios, public health program manager for the Department of Public Health.

Kathleen Grassi, director of the Department of Public Health, said both cases were travel related and the mosquito carrying the virus has not yet been identified in the county.

“I would say it’s more important to take precautions,” Grassi said.

Grassi recommends wearing a bug repellent at all times when outdoors, especially during the day, because the mosquito is day-time active. Insect repellent carrying DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon or eucalyptus according to label instructions are recommended. Grassi said residents should eliminate standing water inside and outside of their homes, like in flower pots, tires and pet bowls.

Four out of five people infected with the Zika virus show no symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit Minnesota based medical clinic. When symptoms do occur they begin, usually, two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Symptoms include rashes, mild fever, muscle and joint pains, head aches or red eyes. Rios said individuals experiencing symptoms should be checked by their primary care giver.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the virus has been linked to miscarriages and neurological disorders.

“We’re definitely doing what we can,” Rios said. “We're trying to avoid any child born with any severe complications.

Rios, said important precautions during sexual intercourse should be taken, especially for pregnant women, because there have been cases of the Zika virus being sexually transmitted

Rios recommends women who are having intercourse while pregnant to use condoms for the duration of their pregnancies.

“The highest risk and greatest concerns is the increase in birth abnormalities,” Rios said.

Women who aren’t pregnant should still take precautions and use condoms, Rios said, especially if their partners have traveled outside the country and experienced symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers have been working on vaccines, but for now the best prevention is avoid mosquito bites and mosquito habitats.

The Zika virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is present in the San Joaquin Valley. Miami, Florida has been the only city in the country to have a local- mosquito borne Zika virus transmission, county officials said.

For additional information on Zika go to: www.cdc.gov/zika or www.cdph.ca.gov. For more information on mosquito abatement call the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District at 209- 722-1527.

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