Midday Sunday: Zika virus

- Sunday's program covers the Zika virus and its potential impact on Southern California.  Earlier this week, the World Health Organization declared a Global Public Health Emergency because of the virus. 

On Wednesday, the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department warned that pregnant women going to areas where the Zika virus is present should re-consider their travel plans.

Zika fever is not a new illness.  But last May, a new outbreak was reported in Brazil. Since then the virus has affected large numbers of people throughout Latin America, the Carribean, the Pacific Islands of Samoa and Tonga, as well as Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa.

There have not been any reports of locally transmitted Zika fever in the United States.  Instead, the virus has been found in people returning from overseas.

The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites. Several very aggressive types of mosquitos, most notably the Asian Tiger Mosquito, are capable of transmitting the virus. 

They are found in the Greater Los Angeles area, particularly in the San Gabriel Valley.  In order to transmit the virus, a mosquito would have to bite a person already infected with Zika. 

The virus attaches itself to the mosquito. When it bites another person, the Zika virus is transmitted to them.

Zika virus symptoms resemble the flu, however doctors say many victims do not notice any symptoms at all.  The infection resolves itself in about a week. 

However, large numbers pregnant women infected with the Zika virus are giving birth to babies with smaller than normal heads.  This birth defect is the source of the WHO public health emergency alert.

For information about the Zika virus in Southern California, go to the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department site at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov and search for "Zika." 

Information about the local mosquito population and its connection with the Zika virus, go to the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District site at www.glacvcd.org.

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