South Carolina now has five confirmed cases of the Zika virus, although the state’s health agency said all those discovered to have the mosquito-borne virus had gotten it while traveling.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported in a web post that none of those discovered to have the virus were pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of strong evidence the virus can increase the risk of birth defects for infants of infected women.
DHEC says mosquitoes in South Carolina are not believed to be carrying the virus. However, as a routine precaution, individuals are encouraged to protect themselves against mosquito bites.
The first case in South Carolina of a resident getting the virus abroad was reported in April. DHEC officials warned at the time that Zika cases were likely to increase as more people began to travel in to those tropical areas where mosquitoes are more likely to carry the virus more prevalent. Only about 1 in 5 of those carrying the Zika virus will show symptoms of the disease.
Federal officials have warned those either pregnant or planning to have a child to avoid travel to those Central and South American countries where the virus is much more prevalent.