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Health, Science and Technology

Zika virus is growing concern for California, local health leaders

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CDC - James Gathany
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Concern over the Zika virus is growing in California as an outbreak of the disease continues to spread in Central and South American countries. 

Los Angeles County Public Health says it confirms a case of Zika Virus in an adolescent girl who traveled to El Salvador in late November. She has recovered.

The California Department of Public Health recommends special travel precautions for pregnant women, or women trying to get pregnant.

The Centers for Disease Control says studies still need to be completed to prove a connection between the virus and negative effects on a developing fetus.

Reports out of Brazil show an increased number of newborns with smaller than expected head size among mothers infected with Zika virus.

Santa Barbara Health Officer Doctor Charity Dean says, unlike last year's ebola situation, this outbreak is something people on the Central Coast should be concerned about.

"The risk of getting Zika virus is much greater to people in North America than the risk was of Ebola because so many people travel to these countries where Zika virus is being spread, and because the species of mosquito that carries it is already here in California," said Dean.

Most infected people have no symptoms, but if they do develop they would include fever, rash, joint pain, and/or red eyes.

Again, the virus is transmitted through mosquitos, and there have yet to be any confirmed cases of the virus originating in California.