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City Manager's Office
City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

AS ZIKA CONCERNS RISE, HEED TRAVEL WARNINGS

Berkeley, California (Thursday, February 18, 2016) - Being careful about travel is the most effective action Berkeleyans can take to protect themselves from Zika, a virus that shows mild, if any, symptoms in the vast majority people but which has raised concerns due to cases of fetal defects or temporary paralysis in Zika-affected areas.

The risk of birth defects makes the travel advisories particularly strong for women who are pregnant or intending to be.  If travel is unavoidable, people should use approved mosquito repellents, screens, mosquito nets, and clothing that covers as much of the body as possible. 

Since there is some evidence the virus can be found in semen, men who have recently traveled to Zika-affected regions should use condoms, especially with pregnant partners.

These recommendations from Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman, the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention come as infection rates continue to grow in Zika-affected areas, such as Central and South America, the Caribbean and some parts of the Pacific.

The Zika virus has been confirmed in nine Californians over the past three years, as of Feb. 12. All contracted the virus abroad after traveling to those Zika-affected areas.

The Zika virus is transmitted primarily by two species of invasive Aedes mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are not native to the Bay Area and have no established population here. The virus primarily spreads when one of these invasive Aedes mosquitoes bites a Zika-infected person and then bites a previously uninfected person.  There is no record of such transmission occurring in the continental United States.  

Since the invasive Aedes mosquitos are not native to the region and cases of Zika in California are extremely low, the chances of contracting Zika locally are extremely low.

Approximately 80 percent of those infected with the Zika virus show no symptoms.  When symptoms occur, they include rash, fever, joint pains, and red eyes-and they resolve without treatment.  Zika virus is of concern because it has recently been associated with a birth defect called "microcephaly," in which babies are born with unusually small heads and brains, and with an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome, which causes temporary paralysis. 

Though there have been no confirmed cases in any Berkeley residents, Berkeley Public Health and Environmental Health are working with local, regional, and state partners to coordinate planning to prevent the spread of Zika virus.   Berkeley Public Health has been working with local health care providers to ensure that they have the information on how to properly screen and test for people suspected of having Zika.

If an individual is concerned about Zika virus, he or she should talk to his/her medical provider. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus infection. When traveling to a Zika-affected area, the only way to prevent infection is to take precautions against mosquito bites.

If you have concerns about mosquito bites, breeding or standing water, contact the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District. You can report incidents online or by calling 510-783-7744. Should there be a Zika case in Alameda County, the abatement district will increase surveillance in that area to ensure that invasive Aedes mosquitoes are not present. All mosquitoes require standing water to breed so drain or cover any standing water on your property to reduce the chance of mosquitoes breeding in your area.

This is an evolving situation, and we continue to work with all those partners to ensure that our response evolves with it.

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