Zika virus arrives in Orange County

Illustration of Zika virus in blood Kateryna Kon/Science Photo Library

Illustration of Zika virus in blood  (Kateryna Kon/Science Photo Library)

A Costa Mesa man in his 40s was bitten by a mosquito and was infected with the Zika virus after traveling to Central America in January. Within a few weeks, mild symptoms started to appear but eventually he made a full recovery.

Microcephaly causes the head and brain of an unborn baby, which is unusually small and may be underdeveloped, has been linked to this virus. Others who are bitten may receive flu-like symptoms or yellow fever. Although, there have been incidents where people that have been bitten by the mosquito experience no symptoms. Another way to receive the disease is by sexual transmission.

As Zika is making its way across the globe, Orange County officials, along with other health departments have grown more concerned about the virus making its way to other states.  Even though the mosquitos have not spread in the United States, people are only bitten and affected while traveling outside the country.

Even though the man from Costa Mesa is the first local case, since last week there have been eight other people in California who have been bit by the mosquito. America has had 32 states that have been affected by the virus with over 193 cases.

“The more we learn, the worse things seem to get,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, scientific director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in a conference call with reporters Thursday.

There are now more than 30 countries who have been affected by the Zika virus. Health officials around the world are advising women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to stay away from traveling to Central America.

The World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency internationally. The CDC has said the Zika virus will continue to grow and develop in existing countries and new areas around.

While scientist work to find a vaccine for Zika, the OC health Care Agency has sent out a press release about the virus and how to prevent being bitten by the mosquito that carries it. So far, they say the best way so far is to stay in drier areas and have some form of repellent.

“What we show is the first piece of evidence” consistent with the hypothesis that Zika infections cause microcephaly, said Hengli Tang, a virologist at Florida State University and another lead author. “We’re literally the first people in the world to know this, to know that this virus can infect these very important cells and interfere with their function.”