Health

First Zika virus case confirmed in Los Angeles County

A city worker fumigates to combat the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus, at the San Judas Community in San Salvador, El Salvador, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Worries about the rapid spread of Zika through the hemisphere has prompted officials in El Salvador, Colombia and Brazil to suggest women stop getting pregnant until the crisis has passed. A girl who traveled to El Salvador and was likely infected with the virus there is now the first known case in Los Angeles County. She has since recovered.
A city worker fumigates to combat the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus, at the San Judas Community in San Salvador, El Salvador, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Worries about the rapid spread of Zika through the hemisphere has prompted officials in El Salvador, Colombia and Brazil to suggest women stop getting pregnant until the crisis has passed. A girl who traveled to El Salvador and was likely infected with the virus there is now the first known case in Los Angeles County. She has since recovered.
Salvador Melendez/AP

Health officials say an adolescent girl who traveled from Los Angeles County to El Salvador late last year was infected with the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus.

The department of public health said Tuesday that the girl, the county's first known case of Zika, has since recovered. She traveled in November to Central America, where she probably contracted the illness.

Zika has generally mild symptoms but is suspected in a surge of birth defects in Brazil, where infections were first identified last year. The CDC says the illness could be linked to a birth defect known as microcephaly, in which children are born with heads that are smaller than normal and often have developmental problems.

No transmission of Zika virus infection has occurred in California or any other U.S. state.

Officials nationwide have warned travelers to take precautions from mosquitoes when visiting other countries.

Travel refunds offered

Two major U.S. airlines are offering refunds to passengers worried about the outbreak in many tropical countries.

United Airlines says customers booked to fly to areas affected by the virus can reschedule or get refunds. American Airlines says it will give refunds to pregnant women who were planning to travel to parts of Central America.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned pregnant women to take precautions against mosquito bites when traveling to areas in Latin America and the Caribbean where there have been Zika outbreaks.

The United Airlines offer began Tuesday and includes any country covered by a CDC travel notice, an airline spokesman said. American Airlines began refunds Monday for pregnant passengers holding tickets to El Salvador, Honduras, Panama or Guatemala, according to a spokesman.

A spokesman for Delta Air Lines said the carrier was monitoring the situation but not yet offering waivers. JetBlue Airways and SpiritAirlines were not immediately able to say whether they were offering refunds. Southwest Airlines said it was sticking to its normal policy, which lets customers who cancel ahead of time reuse the value of their tickets. All of those airlines fly to at least some affected locations.

On Tuesday, the CDC expanded its travel alert for pregnant women to add the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic to the list of areas with Zika outbreaks. The CDC has already recommended that pregnant women consider postponing trips to 22 other destinations.

— In Central and South America: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela.

— In the Caribbean: Barbados, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, St. Martin and Puerto Rico.

— And Cape Verde, off the coast of western Africa, and Samoa in the South Pacific.