SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Disturbing new information about the spread of the Zika virus.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending all blood banks and clinics, nationwide, test every single blood donation for the potentially debilitating virus.
Dr. Charity Dean, Health Officer with Santa Barbara County Public Health, talked to NewsChannel 3 Friday about new health restrictions and research findings linked to the Zika virus.
"80 percent of people infected are asymptomatic," Dean said. "I expect to see more travel cases or sexually transmitted cases."
Dean noted that many local residents travel to main areas impacted by the virus and that 57 countries or regions are on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of travel restrictions for women who are pregnant, including for the first time, the United States.
The first local travel-associated case of Zika virus was documented this week in Santa Barbara County and involves a pregnant woman.
Dean recommends travelers check the CDC map of travel restrictions both when leaving the states and coming back. She also pointed out that health officials have documented a growing number of asymptomatic men who've transmitted the virus to their partners, including pregnant women.
Women who may have been exposed to the Zika virus are urged to wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive.
The local Health Officer also shared recent findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine that documents a woman infected with the Zika virus during her pregnancy. The baby appeared normal both in utero and after delivery. However, the newborn's blood tested positive for the Zika virus and at 67 days, health officials detected a "clear neurological decline."
"Suggesting that Zika virus in an infant causes damage in brain cells," Dean said. "And hangs around an infant's body longer than first known."
Dean points out that there are new warnings and medical findings linked to Zika virus research, almost on a daily basis.