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33 US Military Service Members May Have Contracted Zika Virus

First Posted: Aug 05, 2016 04:13 AM EDT
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Nobody is readily immune from the Zika virus, and it seems that the feared illness has reached the American Military. A report from The New York Times said that there are as many as 33 active-duty American service members, one of which is a pregnant woman, who have been identified to contract the disease.

Maj. Ben Sakrisson, a spokesman from the Pentagon shared that the government has been tracking the Zika in service men and women since January, and the numbers just reached 33 this month. Officials did not identify the countries where these overseas service members were assigned and could have contracted the virus, however, they noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already listed them as places that have had the mosquito species present with the disease.

By July 26, the CDC reported that active Zika transmissions have been happening in most of Central and South America, with the exception of Chile and Uruguay. However, the army is said to be working with scientists do develop a vaccine for the illness. Time Magazine noted that the National Institutes of Health announced that 80 volunteers will test a new vaccine on a human trial, and they could save the other 6,000 who have had confirmed Zika cases on a human trial.

This virus is dangerous - Zika has been linked to severe birth defects like microcephaly, which is why there has been a greater concern for these women in the area. Just last week, Florida officials have reported the first signs of local transmission of the disease in the continental United States in a neighborhood in Miami. By Monday, they are already urging pregnant women to stay away from the neighborhood, in what was apparently the first time that the CDC had to advise people to stay away from the continental US.

The number of Zika cases in Florida has risen to 14 from the 4 announced on Friday - 12 men and two women. However, they maintained that they did not expect the numbers to grow into an epidemic the way it did across Latin America over the past few months.

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