DHEC has confirmed 43 cases of Zika infection in South Carolina
A total of 43 travel-associated cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in the state of South Carolina, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Last week, DHEC released a map of all the reported cases in South Carolina, showing eight confirmed cases of Zika in Charleston County, four in Dorchester County, and three more in Berkeley County. As of Aug. 26, Zika cases had been reported in a dozen counties throughout South Carolina.
Of the 43 cases confirmed statewide, 42 involved travelers who were infected abroad and diagnosed after returning home. According to DHEC, the remaining case involved a South Carolina resident who had sexual contact with someone who acquired an infection while traveling.
The first case of travel-associated infection in South Carolina was confirmed in late April. At that time, DHEC reported that the infected individual did not have symptoms and was not contagious when arriving back in the United States.
Zika, which is mostly spread by infected mosquitoes, can be passed on by pregnant women to their fetuses and lead to possible birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control reports that a total of 2,517 cases have been reported in the United States, almost all of which were associated with travel. According to the latest statistics from the CDC, there have been 29 reported cases of locally acquired mosquito-borne infections in the U.S.
A majority of those infected with Zika show no symptoms, which when present consist of fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis lasting as long as one week. Those traveling in countries with active Zika transmission are advised to use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens. The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid traveling to areas where virus transmission is ongoing. Currently, no women in South Carolina have been listed in the national Zika pregnancy registry for pregnant women and infants affected by the virus. In August, DHEC was awarded $400,000 through a CDC grant to support enhanced surveillance of birth defects related to the virus and support care and educational services for women and infants in the case of infection. DHEC also received another $1.29 million in grant money to support pregnancy registry efforts, epidemiology, and disease surveillance.