Florida health officials have confirmed ten new cases of the Zika virus on Friday, making it the largest number of infections found in one day. The total number cases added up around 1000, while only 246 of those have been found in Florida.

Two out of the ten cases in the state involved pregnant women, while 25 of the overall infected people are still exhibiting symptoms, according to a press release made by the Florida Health Department (FHD).

Rio de Janeiro has the highest number of Zika cases, over 26 thousand, and the virus incidence rate is 157 cases per 100 thousand people, Harvard Public Health Review (HPHR) reports. Image Credit: BeachComber Media

The new infections were determined to be travel-related, health authorities confirmed in the statement that until now there had not been locally-acquired cases in Florida. Most of the overall cases reported were present in Miami-Dade with 69 infections, followed by Broward with 33.

“The department urges Floridians to drain standing water weekly, no matter how seemingly small. A couple of drops of water in a bottle cap can be a breeding location for mosquitoes,” the FHD stated. “Residents and visitors also need to use repellents when enjoying the Florida outdoors.”

Several Zika virus cases have been discovered across the U.S. over the last few months. Some preventive measures are being taken by health officials to avoid further spread of the virus, which can have significant consequences for pregnant women.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms of the virus infection are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis or red eyes. The illness is usually mild with its symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito, the reason why health authorities urged to use repellent and avoid accidentally create breeding locations.

A nationwide problem

About five Zika cases were reported in Alabama by local health officials during the last month. The infected, like the ones in Florida,  recently traveled to countries known to be battling with the Zika virus. One of those infected patients currently lives in Jefferson County while the others are from Houston County, according to a press release from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Four other cases have been discovered as well in Tarrant County, Texas, according to Public Health Director Vinny Taneja in a statement. None of the cases in Tarrant County were transmitted by local mosquitoes, the disease was imported in at least one instance from Puerto Rico, as reported by CBS Local.

With the latest cases, public health departments are making sure the virus stated controlled by increasing its surveillance. The infected patients, particularly those in Alabama, were asked for the name of sexual partners and other members of the household, which will constantly be monitored for the illness to avoid further spread.

Sexually-transmitted virus

Brazil’s authorities, from the country with the biggest Zika virus problem, have informed in the past that the virus has been found in patient’s saliva and urine, which makes possible the transmission via fluids and adds more difficulties to fight the spread. Also, it is known as well by the U.S. researchers that the virus spreads from sexual intercourse.

However, the sexually-transmitted infection may be more worrying that it was previously thought, according to some researchers. The evidence is still emerging, and the findings have created some mix positions, as reported by the New York Times.

Experts agree that mosquitos are the epidemic’s primary driver, but two reports now suggest that women in Latin America are more likely to be infected than men in the same area, even though both genders are presumed to be equally exposed to mosquito bites.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commented that the evidence was “striking.” Like most scientists, he had doubts about aspects of the data, but the results justified a more rigorous study.

“I cannot say it is not true that women are more at risk,” Fauci told the New York Times.

Ten countries, Argentina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal and the United States, have reported some infections that were undoubtedly passed via sex, and no case of female-to-male transmission has ever been documented.

The virus can survive for months in the semen, even in men who have had very mild infections. That is another reason why pregnant women, or those trying to be, are warned not to have unprotected sex with men who have been in areas where the virus is present.

Other experts in the same area disagree that women are the primary objectives of the virus, like Donald A. Berry, a leading biostatistician at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He said that women’s fear of Zika is so great, and the confusion over dengue, which has similar symptoms, could interfere in the difference between males and females.

“Women seek to find out whether they have Zika, while men blow it off,” Berry said. “This bias is so large that it could easily explain differences much greater than 60 percent.”

Source: Florida Health Department