By Robert Kittle
Three blood samples from South Carolina have been sent to the CDC to test for the Zika virus, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. One of the samples was negative for Zika and the other two results are pending. All three samples came from people who had recently traveled to countries where the Zika virus is widespread.
The disease is spread by mosquitoes.
“At this time we don’t have any Zika virus cases here in South Carolina, so the threat is very, very low for any transmission of Zika virus here,” says Dr. Teresa Foo, a DHEC medical consultant in the Immunizations & Acute Disease Epidemiology Divisions.
The World Health Organization says the Zika virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas and could reach 4 million cases in the next year.
Experts say for most people the virus is not a serious health risk, because 80 percent of the people who get it show no symptoms, while those who do show symptoms may have a fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes, with symptoms lasting about a week.
But the virus can be very serious for women of child-bearing age. It hasn’t been confirmed, but there appears to be a link between the Zika virus and children born with microcephaly, an abnormally small head and underdeveloped brain. For that reason, the CDC is recommending that women who are pregnant or may become pregnant not to travel to the 24 countries where the disease is widespread. Most of those countries are in Central and South America and the Caribbean. You can see the list here.