CDC: New York State leads nation in Zika cases

New York continues to lead the nation in Zika cases, with 811 people testing positive for the mosquito-borne virus, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Florida ranked second with 731 cases, including 59 patients who were infected locally, in Miami — the only state where this has occurred to date.

All of New York’s Zika cases were related to travel, according to the CDC.

“New York has a large population of persons who hail from areas currently experiencing local transmission,” said Dr. Susan Donelan, an infectious-disease specialist at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. 

Travelers might have been exposed to the virus and qualify for testing once they are back home in New York, Donelan said.

The virus has been linked to brain damage and serious birth defects in infants born to infected mothers.

More than 25,000 cases of Zika infection have been reported in the United States and its territories, and of those, more than 2,000 cases are in women who are pregnant, CDC officials said.

Congress this week approved a $1.1 billion spending package to fund research and prevention efforts after about seven months of partisan wrangling. President Barack Obama on Thursday signed the bill, which would provide supplemental funding until Dec. 9.

“Zika is still a real threat — and we have more to do — but it is good news that Congress was finally able to do what we have been asking for months and fund critical efforts to beat back the virus,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

Zika is primarily spread to people through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. In most cases the symptoms are mild and can include fever, rash, joint pain and red eye.

Health experts are particularly concerned about the impact on pregnant women and couples who might conceive.

“If a sexual partner has traveled to areas with local transmission, partners should follow the guidance from the CDC and either avoid sexual relations altogether or consistently and correctly use condoms,” Donelan said.

CDC officials on Friday also released new recommendations urging men who might have been exposed to Zika to wait at least six months before trying to conceive a child with their partners.

There is currently no vaccine and no medicine to treat Zika. Health officials urge pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas with a high number of Zika infections, particularly South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

The best way to prevent infection is by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, using insect repellent and sleeping under mosquito nets to prevent bites, health officials said.


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