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Zika latest; CA, Kern health officials preparing

Posted at 2:24 PM, Feb 05, 2016

Puerto Rico declared a state of emergency Friday due to the ongoing Zika virus outbreak.

Officials say 22 people have been infected with the disease in Puerto Rico.

In the U.S. 54 people have been infected with the Zika virus, but health officials say all but one of those cases were acquired while out of the country.

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The one case in Dallas, Texas is believed to have been transmitted through sexual contact with an individual who was infected.

The virus is now in 30 countries across the globe, including Mexico. The Center for Disease Control has issued a “Level 2” travel alert to 14 countries where the Zika virus transmission is ongoing, that list includes Mexico. However, in a statement to 23ABC Friday, the Mexican Consulate in Fresno said, “Zika virus does not pose a massive risk to health in Mexico.” Also adding, “There is no reason not to travel to Mexico.”

The statement went on to say that the Mexican government is paying close attention to the World Health Organization, who did not suggest any travel restrictions, as well as preparing for this disease for more than a year.

“The Government of Mexico, through the Ministry of Health, has made ‘preventive work, has formed brigades to provide care in areas where there may be a risk,’ and has carried out actions of fumigation and guidance.”

Locally, the Kern County Department of Public Health has provided very little information about the Zika virus and local recommendations, but officials said that's because they are awaiting more information from the California Department of Public Health, who is taking direction from the CDC.

“We need to hear what’s happening, what is scientifically being done and then we are taking the appropriate steps to inform our community of what we need to know and scientifically based information, not rumor, not speculation because that’s not going to do any of us any good.

Officials say there is no evidence of the Zika virus in Kern County or in California and don’t think people should be fearful at this point. Instead, officials suggest being proactive in fighting the general mosquito population Kern county faces.

“We do encourage our Kern County residents, if they want to think ‘I’m proactively doing something to control the mosquito population,’ remove the standing water from your property,” said Michelle Corson, a spokesperson for the department of public health. 

Standing water pots, tire swings, and refreshing your pet’s water bowls are all proactive steps to help fight mosquitos in general. 

Public health officials said they will be sure to share any new or pertinent information with the community as soon as they have it.