Two more people in Georgia have tested positive for the Zika virus, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported Thursday.
The individuals have recovered from the virus but acquired it while traveling in South and Central America recently. The department would not say if the infected were men or women, only that neither person was pregnant. In one case, the person had traveled to Guatemala and El Salvador. In the other, the person had visited Colombia. The two latest cases bring the number of travel-related cases of Zika in Georgia to three.
Earlier this month the health department announced the first case of the virus in Georgia. The department is waiting for test results on several other Georgians who’ve recently traveled to areas where Zika is on the rise.
While the virus is mosquito-borne, researchers now believe it can be transmitted through sex. So far there have been 15 cases of sexual transmission of the virus in the U.S., although federal health officials classify those cases as travel-related because the carriers of the virus had visited countries in the midst of the outbreak.
A swath of the Americas is dealing with an escalating outbreak of the virus. Zika is a suspected cause of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes unusually small heads and undersized brains in newborns. The virus is also suspected in a rise of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a virus that causes severe paralysis and, in some cases, death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently has a team of researchers in Brazil where the virus has exploded, particularly in rural and poor areas. Scientists haven’t figured out whether a Zika infection alone causes the disorders or whether other factors work in concert with the virus to cause the devastating birth defect.
Federal and state health officials have said Zika will likely make its way to the U.S. as mosquito season settles in.