The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that six known U.S. cases of the Zika virus have occurred in residents of Hawaii.
Zika virus symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis, which is pink eye in children. It can be transmitted sexually to both partners (for most people) and via sexual fluids (for more risky people).
Zika outbreaks have been reported in several parts of the world, including in Brazil, Puerto Rico, France, Israel, and the British Virgin Islands. Unfortunately, the virus is spreading in the Americas and regions of the world that are also grappling with dengue, chikungunya, and dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Here are some things to know about Zika and Washington.
Tracing the outbreak
Invasive mosquito populations have been established in some parts of the country. There is no vaccine, but treatments include the use of antivenom. US public health experts worry that mosquito populations will rapidly expand as they adapt to the new environment and mosquitoes become more used to people being bitten in dengue and chikungunya-infested areas.
What about mosquitoes around the White House?
Zika has been discovered in the Obama family’s swimming pool, but there have been no documented cases of its transmission in the White House pool or in the president’s home, according to US media reports. When US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden was grilled by reporters, he insisted that the pool is “handled” by people in protective gear. But it’s not the only pool with a significant risk of spreading Zika. President Obama also let it be known during his press conference Thursday that his 14-year-old daughters were swimming in the outdoor pool at Andrews Air Force Base. More worrisome, Frieden acknowledged that in Washington, a deadly disease spread by mosquitoes can be a serious threat to American citizens.
How many people have been infected in Washington?
As of April 21, the number of confirmed cases of Zika virus in the US is five — all in travelers to areas with active Zika virus transmission — and one probable case, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency reported a total of 11 known cases. The New York Times put the total Washington-area cases at eight and Florida at five, with a possible fourth case reported in Florida on April 19, though that case has not been confirmed.
Where are the cases?
Miami has the highest number of confirmed Zika cases in the US: 14. Of these, four are in residents of Miami, two in patients who traveled to affected areas, and one traveller from Colombia, according to reports. The Hialeah and Homestead areas of Miami-Dade County are the areas with the most reported cases, the CDC reports.
Two patients have reported Zika in their children: A 21-year-old woman with two children under the age of three in Miami-Dade County; and a 13-year-old girl in Kendall, north of Miami, who had the virus while traveling and said she became infected when she played near an unscreened Wynwood apartment building, according to reports. The CDC advised that pregnant women avoid the area.
Miami has also reported the highest incidence of birth defects, according to the World Health Organization. There are 18 confirmed cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, which has been linked to Zika, and four suspected cases.
Hialeah, a majority Dominican community in Miami-Dade County, has had the highest reported incidence of Zika cases so far, with 16, according to the CDC. An estimated 4 to 8 percent of the Hialeah population has been infected with Zika, the agency said.
Dade County, the county surrounding Miami, is home to 1.4 million people, almost half of whom are Latino.
Virginia, which is home to 1.2 million people, has reported two cases of Zika virus infection so far. The three people who tested positive for the virus are Caribbean.