If you thought Florida and Texas were the only states that had to worry about Zika virus this summer, think again. On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its maps showing the territory range for the Zika-capable Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species of mosquito.
The agency noted that the Aedes aegypti is more likely to spread viruses such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya than the Aedes albopictus, though the latter is capable of transmission, too.
"There are more places at risk than realize they're at risk, given where the mosquito is likely to be present," said CDC director Tom Frieden, according to the Associated Press. Still, the agency's website was careful to note that the maps represent the potential ranges for the mosquitos, not the risk for disease spread.
So far, there have been 312 travel-related Zika cases confirmed in the United States, and zero locally acquired cases. Since the virus can also be transmitted sexually, the agency recommends that men who contract Zika virus wait six months before having unprotected sex -- whether vaginal, anal, and oral -- and that pregnant couples with a Zika-infected male partner abstain from sex or use condoms every time.
Most people who contract Zika virus develop very mild symptoms, or don't show any signs of having had the virus at all. But doctors and researchers strongly suspect there's a connection between women who contract Zika during pregnancy and the birth defect microcephaly, which can cause babies to be born with abnormally small heads and in some cases, cognitive problems. It may also cause miscarriage and stillbirth, and women who have traveled to an area with Zika virus are advised to wait eight weeks before trying to get pregnant.
In Brazil, where Zika virus has been rapidly spreading since last year, there are 944 confirmed cases of microcephaly at latest count.