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


Berkeley, California (Monday, August 01, 2016) - At least thirteen infants with birth defects have been born in the continental U.S. to women with Zika, a virus that has been overwhelmingly tied to travel to other countries. In addition, another 6 women with Zika had fetuses with birth defects that resulted in miscarriages, stillbirths or did not survive. 

These cases emphasize the most severe risks of Zika infection, which will result in mild, if any, symptoms for the vast majority of people. The cases also highlight that pregnant women and those considering pregnancy face great risk to their fetuses. There is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika virus.

Berkeley's Health Officer, Dr. Janet Berreman, and health officers around the region advise pregnant women, those considering pregnancy and their partners to delay travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission. Those regions of the world have the two types of mosquitoes that quickly spread the virus and also have significant numbers of Zika-infected people that the mosquitoes bite.  

Of the more than 1,600 reported cases of Zika in the United States as of July 27, all but a handful been tied to travel to a Zika-affected area or sexual activity with a traveler. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel advisory was also issued today, Aug. 1, for a neighborhood in Miami, Fl. to where pregnant women should not travel.

Use travel advisories to guide which countries you travel to. Those who cannot avoid travel should take precautions, such as approved mosquito repellents, screens, mosquito nets, and clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.

There is evidence Zika can be sexually transmitted from men to women, posing a risk to a developing fetus. Men and women who have recently traveled to Zika-affected regions should properly use condoms, barrier methods or not have sex. If a partner is pregnant, the risk of sexual contact is greater, leading health officials to more strongly urge protection or avoiding sex.

Of 1,658 Zika cases nationally, 433 involve pregnant women, as of July 21. The 114 cases of Zika in California include 21 pregnant women, as of July 29.

"Pregnant women or those considering pregnancy should use the CDC's travel advisories to think carefully about summer travel," said Berreman, the City of Berkeley's health officer.

Zika virus has been determined to be a cause of microcephaly, a birth defect in which the baby is born with a smaller-than-normal head often with abnormal brain development. Babies with microcephaly can have a range of health and developmental problems, including seizures, developmental delay, intellectual disability, problems with movement and balance, feeding problems, and hearing loss as well as vision problems. These health challenges can range from mild to severe and often last throughout the child's entire life. In some cases, they can be life-threatening.  The full impact of Zika Virus infection on the unborn child and subsequent infant development is not yet know. 

Most people infected with Zika virus will not develop symptoms. If symptoms develop they are usually mild and include fever, rash, joint pain and eye redness. If you have returned from an affected country and you have those symptoms when you return, you should contact your medical provider and tell them where you have traveled. While there is no specific treatment for Zika virus disease, the best recommendations are supportive care, rest, fluids and medications to relieve the fever. 

Zika is transmitted abroad by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which are not native to California.  Although these mosquitoes have been detected in the Bay Area in the past, none have been found this year thus the risk for local transmission is extremely low.

In Berkeley and throughout the Bay Area, residents are being tested regularly, and many of those test results are pending. Berkeley Public Health is working with local health care providers to facilitate prompt and appropriate testing of individuals at risk for Zika virus infection. Testing is performed in coordination with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and may take several weeks to complete.  

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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