Four more South Carolina residents contracted Zika; 11 total for state

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito can carry the Zika virus, which may cause severe and deadly birth defects.JAMES GATHANY/CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION/AP

Four more South Carolina residents have been diagnosed with the Zika virus bringing the state total to 11 confirmed cases.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported on Friday that 10 of the cases involved residents who were infected while traveling abroad in impacted areas.

“One case involved a South Carolina resident who had sexual contact with someone who acquired the Zika infection while traveling abroad,” DHEC wrote on its website.

The agency says it is unable to provide additional information concerning the patients’ physical condition, hospitalization, age, sex, and residence.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes — both of which are found in South Carolina. There is no evidence that they are spreading the disease locally.

Experts confirmed in April that Zika is linked to babies being born with smaller heads, or microcephaly. In those cases, the mothers are infected during pregnancy, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is suggesting that pregnant women not travel to countries where Zika is prominent.

In an update on July 6, the CDC reported that 1,133 U.S. citizens have tested positive for Zika. That includes 14 sexually-transmitted cases and 320 cases among pregnant women.

Dr. Robert Ball, a health professor at the College of Charleston and at the Medical University of South Carolina, said last month that the rise in numbers is expected. How high the numbers get will depend on how frequently U.S. citizens travel to areas where Zika is widespread, he said.

“We may have a few locally transmitted cases but doubt there will be any clusters, much less an epidemic,” Ball said.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, rash and joint pain, though many patients never experience them. The illness is usually mild and only one of every five people who contract Zika actually get sick.

Reach Derrek Asberry at 843-937-5517. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.