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First Zika cases confirmed in Riverside, Fresno counties

An adult Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, is caught for testing in a backyard in Silver Lake. The mosquitoes are believed to be able to carry Zika virus.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A man in Riverside County and a woman in Fresno County were each infected with Zika virus while traveling abroad recently, according to health officials. The cases are the first to be reported for those counties.

Zika virus, which has broken out in dozens of countries in the Americas and is suspected of causing birth defects, is primarily transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.

Though mosquitoes have yet to spread Zika in the United States, more than 900 Americans who’ve visited countries with outbreaks have come back infected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In California, there had been 68 travel-associated Zika cases as of Friday, including 19 in Los Angeles County and 16 in San Diego County, according to the state health department.

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Health officials said the Riverside County man who was infected had traveled to the Caribbean. Fresno County health officials did not say which country the infected woman had visited. Both cases were announced Tuesday.

Health officials nationwide say that that everyone should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, including wearing long sleeves and using repellent.

Pregnant women are advised not to travel to regions with Zika outbreaks. The disease was declared an international public health emergency after a spike in Zika cases in Brazil was followed by a spike in cases of microcephaly, in which a baby is born with an unusually small head.

soumya.karlamangla@latimes.com

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