Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Florida: DOH Confirms 1st Sexually Transmitted Zika Virus Infection in State


While only a handful of cases have been documented, and it is believed to be a minor route of transmission, over the past 6 weeks sexual transmission of the Zika virus has gone from being viewed as a slim possibility, to being regarded as a genuine public health concern.

It was just over two weeks ago the CDC issued a HAN Advisory On Prevention Of Sexual Transmission Of Zika Virus, and we've now evidence that the Zika virus can persist in semen for weeks longer than in the blood. 

Today Florida joins the short list of states with confirmed sexual transmission of the Zika virus, as announced today in his daily briefing by the Surgeon General of the State of Florida.

First Sexually Transmitted Case Confirmed in Florida
By Florida Department of Health, Office of Communications
March 09, 2016

Communications Office
(850) 245-4111

Tallahassee, Fla. - In an effort to keep Florida residents and visitors safe and aware about the status of the Zika virus, State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong will issue a Zika virus update each week day at 2 p.m. Updates will include a CDC-confirmed Zika case count by county and information to better keep Floridians prepared.

There are two new cases today in Polk County – one is travel-associated and one was sexually transmitted from an individual who was traveling outside of the country. The Declaration of Public Health Emergency has been expanded to include Polk County. Of the cases confirmed in Florida, three cases are still exhibiting symptoms. According to the CDC, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days.

The CDC has put out guidance related to the sexual transmission of the Zika virus. This includes the CDC recommendation that if you have traveled to a country with local transmission of Zika you should abstain from unprotected sex.

Based on CDC guidance, several pregnant women who have traveled to countries with local-transmission of Zika have received antibody testing, and of those, four have tested positive for the Zika virus. The CDC recommends that a pregnant woman with a history of Zika virus and her provider should consider additional ultrasounds. It is recommended that women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant postpone travel to Zika affected areas.

Last week, Governor Rick Scott announced that the Centers for Disease Control fulfilled the request he made last week for more antibody tests for the Zika virus and provided an additional 500 tests.

On Feb. 12, Governor Scott directed State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to activate a Zika Virus Information Hotline for current Florida residents and visitors, as well as anyone planning on traveling to Florida in the near future. The hotline, managed by the Department of Health, has assisted 959 callers since it launched. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735.

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Although these cases are becoming common enough not to spark the kind of interest they did six weeks ago, they do serve as a reminder of the importance of heeding the CDC's Updated Guidelines For Preventing Sexual Transmission Of Zika.