Well, that epidemic didn't take long to start scaring the crap out of America.
The first confirmed case of the Zika virus in Los Angeles County was reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control today.
Separately, cases have been confirmed over the past 48 hours by state agencies in Virginia and Minnesota.
No known transmissions of Zika have taken place inside the US. The virus isn't contagious between humans but is spread by mosquitoes. These 3 new U.S. victims are said to have acquired Zika abroad.
The California patient is a young girl from Los Angeles County who traveled to El Salvador last November, where she apparently became infected. She has since recovered. The infection usually has no symptoms, but is of great concern because it appears linked to a recent spike in Brazil of a serious birth defect.
Health officials in the U.S. are warning female travelers of child-bearing age in particular to take special precautions when visiting other countries, or cancel trips abroad entirely for now.
Zika cases have also been identified in Virginia and Minnesota over the past couple of days. The travel history of the Virginia patient hasn't been disclosed (that I can find, anyway). The Minnesota patient recently traveled to Central America, just like the LA patient.
All three of these newly reported cases are expected to make a full recovery.
About a dozen Americans in a handful of states have been diagnosed with Zika after visiting outbreak zones, but there is no evidence the virus, which is linked to an outbreak of birth defects in Brazil, is spreading in the USA. The virus doesn't spread from person to person, like the flu. It's spread by mosquitoes, like malaria and West Nile Virus.
The mosquito species that is known to spread Zika, the Aedes, doesn't live in Minnesota, making it unlikely the disease will spread in that state.
The new case was diagnosed in a woman in her 60s from Anoka County, Minn., according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Her symptoms began Jan. 1, after she returned from Honduras. She was not hospitalized and is expected to make a full recovery, health officials said.