Virginia case was ‘imported’

The Virginia Department of Health has confirmed the Zika virus infection in a Virginia resident who recently traveled to a country where the Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

According to a Tuesday Virginian-Pilot newspaper article, the resident is from the northwestern part of the state, citing a statement from the Virginia Department of Health.

Dr. Charles Devine III, health director for the Lord Fairfax Health District, said that this has been the first reported, laboratory-confirmed case in a traveler returning to Virginia.

“This is an ‘imported’ case,” he said, “That is, the infection was acquired outside of the United States and brought into the U.S. by the traveler.’

He added that the person poses no risk to anyone in Virginia.

“The Virginia Department of Health does everything it can to protect the privacy of patients. For this reason VDH will not release information on the location of the affected person within the state. This person’s infection presents absolutely no risk to anyone else,” he said.

In time, more cases may present themselves in the state. The Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites.

Currently, people in Virginia can only get infected through travel to an area where the virus is circulating among the mosquitoes.

But in the coming months, the virus can be carried by a type of mosquito that lives in Virginia.

“It currently isn’t mosquito season here so there is no current risk. Once mosquito season arrives there will be a risk that an imported case could be transmitted to another person by the bite of a mosquito,” he said, ‘The infection is not generally transmitted directly from person to person.”

If people choose to travel to an area with ongoing transmission, they will need to take precautions.

He recommends, “Anyone who must travel to a Zika-affected country should take precautions to minimize exposure to mosquitoes, including using insect repellents, wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks, and sleeping in rooms with screened windows, mosquito netting protecting the bed or air conditioning.”

He added that pregnant women are advised to postpone travel to Zika-affected areas.

People who do travel to these affected areas are still at risk of becoming infected. If a person becomes infected, he or she could experience no or only mild symptoms, he said. These symptoms might include, fever, rash, joint pain and redness around the eyeball.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website http://www.cdc.gov/zika, there is no vaccine for the virus, and treating the symptoms is all that can be done as of right now.

The website notes that the Zika virus isn’t a new virus.  It states that outbreaks have been previously reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com