Video: Zika virus symposium held at UCSF amid 5 Bay Area cases


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The number of cases of the Zika virus in the Bay Area remained at five Monday night.

Zika has been tied to birth defects. And so far, it is mostly affected Latin America and the Caribbean.

Doctors gathered at UCSF Monday to talk about its possible effects locally and what those who travel abroad need to know.619A1CCDAA5B4178B13E3B653D6E3B1C

The day-long symposium on the Zika virus focused on both basic science and prevention.

Doctors said the Zika virus has been linked to birth defects and can be transmitted from mother to unborn child.

Unfortunately, detecting it is not so easy.

“Zika virus sort of presents a pregnant woman’s worst possible nightmare,” UCSF professor Kirsten Salmeen said. “She might not know if she was infected, she might not be able to avoid infection, and if there is an impact on her fetus, it might not be diagnosed until the late third trimester.”

Still, doctors said the risk of transmission in the continental U.S., and especially the Bay Area, is very low.

Doctors said the prevalence of mosquitos that carry the virus, coupled with the climate, and the lack of mosquito abatement, make those areas ripe for an epidemic.

“If you are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy or you’re the sexual partner of a woman who is pregnant or is going to become pregnant, you should probably try and avoid…areas where the virus is being transmitted,” UCSF professor Dr. George Rutherford said.

While doctors say there may eventually be some cases locally where people are infected directly by mosquitoes, most of the cases we see in the Bay Area will be people who have been infected overseas, or through sexual contact with someone infected overseas.

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