Zika virus makes its first appearance in L.A. County

zik-world-map_active_01-26-2016_webA teenage girl who traveled to Central America is the first confirmed case of Zika virus infection in Los Angeles County.

The mosquito-borne virus has been raising alarms among health officials, who say it appears to be linked to serious birth defects in Brazil.

Confirmation of the infection in L.A. County came one day after the World Health Organization warned that Zika cases will likely soon reach the Unites States and other countries.

asian-tiger-mosquitoL.A. County health officials say the 14-year-old girl probably contracted the virus during a visit to El Salvador in November. She’s recovered. There have been a handful of Zika cases in California, but no confirmed transmission of the virus here.

Zika is not passed from person to person. It’s transmitted by mosquitoes that have bitten an infected person, and then bite another person.

Usually there are no symptoms. Those who do get sick can experience fever, rash and joint pain. But health officials say that in Brazil the virus appears to be connected to numerous cases of microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads.

Fears of the virus have led officials in several Latin American countries to warn women there not to get pregnant. U.S. officials say travelers should take caution when visiting countries where they virus has been transmitted, including some in the Caribbean Pregnant women are being advised not to travel to those places at all.

The two species that spreads the Zika virus – the Asian tiger and yellow fever mosquitoes – are not native to California, but they have been detected here in recent years.