State health officials now say there are 43 confirmed cases of Zika virus in South Carolina, including the first case of a South Carolinian who became infected without traveling abroad or having sex with someone who had.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for the first time Friday released a map of the counties where the virus has been confirmed in patients. Charleston County had the most cases with eight individuals, while Greenville and Lexington counties had seven cases. However, those counties are also among the six most populated in the state. The five largest counties based on population were also among the highest for Zika cases on DHEC’s map, with the notable exception of Horry County’s zero cases.
However, the DHEC numbers do not account for another individual that Horry County officials said Friday had been confirmed in their county. Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce CEO Brad Dean said the individual involved is believed to have acquired the disease in Florida.
Zika is most often transmitted by mosquitos who bite infected victims, then spread it to a second individual. No mosquitos in South Carolina have tested positive for the virus. However, it can also be transmitted sexually. DHEC says one individual in South Carolina got the virus this way.
The Centers for Disease Control has warned pregnant women and those trying to have children to stay out of tropical regions where the virus is active, due to fears that Zika can cause microcephaly and other fatal birth defects in infants. Recently, that advisory has extended to parts of Miami and South Florida after locally-acquired cases were confirmed there. So far none of South Carolina’s confirmed cases have involved pregnant women, DHEC says.