The Merced County Department of Public Health is reporting that two residents have been confirmed to have the Zika virus.
The two unrelated individuals are believed to have contracted the virus while traveling to countries outside the United States that are currently experiencing active Zika outbreaks.
The health department stated the two residents had mild symptoms of the virus and have recovered after medical treatment.
The Zika virus was confirmed in Stanislaus County in June when a 19-year-old man came down with the virus after traveling to the Caribbean. The man had mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,658 cases in the U.S. as of Friday. There are 114 cases in California, none of which originated from a bite in the state.
Most of the people sickened in the U.S. came into contact with the virus while overseas, but recently four cases have been confirmed to have originated in Florida, according to the CDC.
The Florida Department of Health identified a Miami neighborhood as a potential hot zone for the virus and the CDC issued a travel warning for the area.
Zika is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is known to be in the San Joaquin Valley. The CDC says this type of mosquito is an aggressive day biter, but also known to bite at night.
Most people testing positive for Zika will have mild to no symptoms. The most common symptoms include fever, rash, and joint pain and begin three to seven days after being bitten.
Severe illness requires supportive care at a hospital. There is no vaccine or cure for Zika.
The virus can be transmitted sexually and is of most concern to pregnant women or women considering getting pregnant in the near future. The virus has been linked to miscarriages and severe birth defects.
All residents are urged to take steps to prevent mosquito bites:
· Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol for long lasting protection. If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
· Using insect repellent is safe and effective. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding can and should choose an EPA-registered insect repellent and use it according to the product label.
· When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
· Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
· Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.
· Report neglected swimming pools by calling your local mosquito abatement district. Anonymous calls accepted.
There are two mosquito abatement districts to serve residents in Stanislaus County. Residents north of the Tuolumne River should contact the Eastside Mosquito Abatement District at 522-4098. Residents south of the Tuolumne River should contact the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District at turlockmosquito.org or 634-1234. Residents are urged to continue to report dead birds to the WNV State Hotline at 1-877-968-2473.