LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — New fears have emerged over the incurable disease Zika virus amid confirmation from health officials of one confirmed case in Los Angeles County.
A doctor with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health says the confirmed local case was that of a teenager who was not pregnant.
According to the doctor, the patient had traveled outside of the United States when the Zika virus was contracted back in November.
However, there is no risk of spreading the virus as it only lasts inside the body up to seven days.
The California Department of Public Health has also confirmed five cases of the Zika virus in the state, all from people infected outside of the U.S.
The disease can cause unborn babies’ brains to be underdeveloped. The number of people infected is growing in Latin America with nearly 4,000 cases in Brazil. The virus is spread by infected mosquitoes known as Aedes which are found in the U.S.
“When you see a tenfold increase in the babies in Brazil of getting this birth defect, it is very real and it’s very much here,” said Sherry Ross, an obstetrician gynecologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
She says her pregnant patients are concerned and with word of one confirmed case in LA County, she’s downright worried.
Los Angeles County Vector Control says they’re worried about the Aedes mosquito and for years have been trying to eradicate all mosquitoes including those that carry West Nile.
But they say the big problem with Aedes mosquitoes is that their eggs can live without water for more than a year.
That’s why they recommend dumping out any standing water even the smallest amount and cleaning or dumping anything that water can collect in to get rid of possible eggs.
With no treatment and no cure for the Zika virus, Ross says there are lots of questions about its effects.
“I think it’s the uncertainty of these viruses,” she said. “When you think about HIV and how it was first found, you just don’t know the profound impact that it can have.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns pregnant women against traveling to the 22 countries that have the virus.
Though vector control says no Aedes mosquitoes have been found with the virus, they recommend that pregnant women avoid areas that have mosquitoes and wear repellant.
Doctors say women in their first trimester are the most vulnerable to the effects of the Zika virus.
Only one in five people who are infected with the Zika virus feel any symptoms at all. Doctors say the greatest risk is to unborn babies.