58ºF

Your Zika questions answered

Health Department: 'High likelihood' 4 cases in South Florida caught in U.S.

photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Growing concern about the Zika virus has led to more questions about its transmission. 

Florida health officials said Friday that there is a "high likelihood" that four cases of Zika in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were caught locally.

The Florida Department of Health said it believes the cases were likely transmitted through infected mosquitoes in a small area in Miami-Dade County.

RELATED: Miami mosquitoes passing Zika, health officials say

Florida has seen a steady increase in Zika diagnoses in recent months, with the total number of cases nearing 400. But until Friday, health officials said cases stemmed from people who were infected because of travel to places such as South America, where the virus emerged last year.

So News4Jax got answers to the questions that many viewers have been asking about the virus:

What are the signs and symptoms of Zika?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of patients don't even have symptoms. The ones who do most often experience fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes.

"Really be vigilant about mosquito bites, especially women who could potentially get pregnant, or are trying to get pregnant," said Dr. Vandana Bhide with Mayo Clinic. 

What long-term effects, if any, could the virus have on women planning to get pregnant years from now?

"Once they recover from the illness, there's no, we don't believe that they can either get Zika again or that it will ever affect any future pregnancies," Bhide said. 

What about screening for the virus?

A blood or urine test can determine if someone has Zika. In the Northeast Florida area, that's only reserved for those at high-risk for the illness -- at least for now.

"Right now, it's accessible to people who are having symptoms. So there's a concern that it's a pregnant woman who may have been exposed to Zika or somebody who has symptoms of an infection. 

How long does the virus last?

Bhide said it looks like the Zika virus lasts about eight weeks in the blood stream. 

How can the virus be avoided?

The health department encourages people to wear insect repellent with DEET during the hours of dusk and dawn and remove standing water because it could attract mosquitoes.

Bhide also added people should use adequate protection during sex.

The CDC has put out guidance related to the sexual transmission of the Zika virus.

For more information, visit floridahealth.gov.