Star Report

A pregnant woman that lives in Santa Barbara County tested positive for Zika virus recently, local health officials announced Thursday.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department says she contracted the virus while traveling in Central America.

Public health officials did not say where in the county the woman lives or to what country she traveled to.

Zika virus occurs though infected Aedes mosquitoes, which are not found in Santa Barbara County, according to the county health department. The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department along with Vector Management are monitoring the evolving Zika situation closely along with State and Federal agencies.

“There is currently no risk for contracting Zika virus in Santa Barbara County via infected mosquitoes,” Santa Barbara County Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean said in a statement.

Zika can be transmitted through sexual contact so doctors recommend to use protection during sexual activity with a partner who has traveled to an area with Zika, or if you are pregnant or considering getting pregnant.

The California Department of Public Health reported earlier this month that two babies have been born with Zika-related microcephaly in California. The virus can cause microcephaly (small head syndrome), brain damage and other birth defects. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika, although research is underway, according to Public Health.

There have been no reported cases of mosquito-transmitted Zika virus in California. Still, health officials say people should take these steps to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents
  • Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants
  • Use air conditioning and window/door screens
  • Empty standing water from containers such as flower pots or water buckets

If you have concerns about your personal risk for Zika virus infection, contact your Primary Care Provider.