The Zika virus, which has prompted a global health scare, has spread to the nation’s capital with three confirmed cases.
The Washington, D.C. Department of Health revealed Thursday afternoon that three residents are infected with the virus, including a pregnant woman.
One of the individuals contracted the illness in 2015 while traveling in South America. The other two cases occurred in 2016, with the pregnant woman picking up the virus in South America and the other individual contracting it in Central America, reports WUSA9.
The condition of the infected pregnant women’s unborn baby is not presently known, reports Fox 5.
“The DC Department of Health (DOH) is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor and track Zika virus infections in DC residents,” read the official statement from the D.C. Department of Health.“It is important for residents to remember that there is no immediate threat to their health and well-being if they have not travelled to the known affected areas. However, we must all stay well informed and be cautious when traveling internationally.”
The Zika virus is particularly troubling due to the potential birth defects it is known to cause, including babies born with neurological defects and abnormally small heads. There is no known treatment for the disease, according to reports.
The mosquito-born virus, which can also be sexually transmitted, has been spreading quickly around the world since its outbreak in the Americas last year. The World Health Organization says the virus has now been detected in 23 countries, and the threat has gone from small to one of “alarming proportions.”
“The level of concern is high, as is the level of uncertainty,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Questions abound. We need to get some answers quickly.”
The D.C. Department of Health has created a Zika virus fact sheet for District residents so they can stay informed on safety and prevention measures. The city will continue to monitor the potential spread of Zika in the capital and update the fact sheet as needed.