Beaufort News

Why DHEC isn’t saying where South Carolina’s Zika patients live

With 26 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in South Carolina, DHEC is maintaining there is no need to identify the counties where infected residents live.

A South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control spokesman said Tuesday that all of the cases are associated with travel abroad. Twenty-five people were travelers infected out of the country and diagnosed after their returns home, and one other case involved a South Carolina resident who had sexual contact with someone who acquired Zika while traveling.

No pregnant women in the state have contracted Zika, according to DHEC.

The situation is far different from that of Florida, where the CDC has issued a travel alert warning pregnant women and their partners from going to a small community just north of Miami because the virus is actively circulating there.

In total, there are 15 confirmed cases of people in Florida who became infected with Zika after being bitten by local mosquitoes.

The South Carolina DHEC spokesman, Robert Yanity, added Monday that it could violate federal privacy restrictions to reveal where in South Carolina infected residents live. “Out of an abundance of caution,” the agency also will not give the age, sex, location, or condition of any patient, he said.

In particular in rural counties with small populations, it could be possible for people to identify and track down residents with the virus, Yanity said.

“It’s happened before,” he said.

Rebecca Lurye: 843-706-8155, @IPBG_Rebecca