While there have been no confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the greater Columbia area,
installation health officials are asking Fort Jackson housing residents to remain vigilant.
South Carolina has confirmed 33 travel-related cases of Zika and one sexually transmitted
case, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. No locally
acquired vector-borne cases have been reported, a situation that Capt. Anton Quist, chief of Preventive Medicine for Moncrief Army Health Clinic, said he wants to see extended indefinitely.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus closely related to yellow fever and dengue. A Zika virus
outbreak was identified in Brazil in early 2015.
Since then, it has spread to more than 25 other countries.
"The most important thing we can do is mosquito control," Quist said. "The mosquitos that
transmit Zika virus do not travel very far."
He said the simplist precaution to take is to make sure there is no standing water near
your home. The kinds of large debris preferred by mosquitoes for breeding are not significant
problems on post, but Quist said some home decorations might be able to collect enough water
to invite mosquitoes.
"It could be the saucer under a flower vase, that's where these mosquitoes breed," Quist
said. "It's very simple to make sure we don't have a source of breeding to make sure we don't
have any of these mosquitoes."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,962 people in the United
States have been infected with Zika, with another 6,618 reported in U.S. territories.
Army Medicine is tracking this outbreak to assess the risks to the Soldiers and their Families.
Army medical facilities have been notified of the concerns surrounding Zika-related infections
and are prepared to assist patients who might have been infected.
So far, there have been no cases of Zika being transmitted in South Carolina by mosquitoes.
"We continue to do surveillance on the population of this base, on the population of this state," Quist said. "We work closely with the state. We've had had zero evidence of Zika virus or
transmittable disease by this particular mosquito on (the installation) or in South Carolina. We continue to do surveillance."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Level 2 Travel Alert for areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing, asking travelers to use proactive "enhanced precautions."
The CDC recommends women who are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, consider delaying travel plans to areas where Zika virus is an ongoing problem. Cases of Zika have been reported in the United States in travelers who have visited areas where the virus has been identified.
The travel advisory is particularly important for women who are pregnant, as the virus has been connected to problematic pregnancies and significant birth defects.
"It's a very important disease concern for us," Quist said, "particularly for pregnant women and the affect it can have on an unborn child."