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No Additional Zika Moves Requested, Defense Department Says

Examining a mosquito trap in San Juan, Panama, on June 6, 2015, are, from left: Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Peet, Lt. Cmdr. James Dunford and a regional vector control specialist. Derek Paumen/U.S. Navy
Examining a mosquito trap in San Juan, Panama, on June 6, 2015, are, from left: Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Peet, Lt. Cmdr. James Dunford and a regional vector control specialist. Derek Paumen/U.S. Navy

After one pregnant U.S. service member asked to be relocated from an area in South America affected by the Zika virus, the Defense Department hasn't received any additional requests, an official said.

No more military family members, troops or Pentagon civilians have requested relocation or been ordered to move since officials made the initial offer early this month, according to Raymond Sarracino, a spokesman for U.S. Southern Command, which oversees military operations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

"Is anyone getting told to leave? It looks like the answer to that is 'no,' " he said.

Southern Command in early February announced that pregnant personnel, civilian employees and immediate family members in Zika-affected areas may be offered voluntary relocation.

Zika, spread by mosquito bites, is a viral infection that has been linked to infants born with a serious birth defect. It is primarily found in South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Pregnant women or women wishing to become pregnant have been advised to avoid traveling to countries with known Zika outbreaks.

No additional information was released about the lone service member who was relocated from an area under Southern Command -- or exactly how at-risk troops, civilians or family members were instructed to request such a move.

It also wasn't clear how many of the roughly 2,740 women employed by the Pentagon in active-duty, Guard and Reserve, and civilian positions are stationed in areas potentially impacted by Zika might be at risk.

"DoD will continue to monitor the situation in close coordination with Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control which is the lead agency for communicating with the American public on this topic," according to a statement from Southern Command.

"Local commanders will keep their units informed of health threats and prudent action to keep our service members, civilian employees and family members safe," it states.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @amybushatz.