CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health (BPH) announced Thursday, March 10, that they had received laboratory confirmation of the State’s first case of the Zika virus.
“With the number of Zika outbreaks occurring in many parts of the world where West Virginians travel for vacation, business or mission work, the likelihood of a finding a Zika case in our State was foreseeable,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health. “The confirmed case involves an adult male and resident of Clay County who traveled to Haiti. He is no longer exhibiting symptoms and has made a full recovery.”
Currently, there has been no local transmission of disease reported in the United States. Cases in the U.S. have only been found in return travelers who were bitten by the infected mosquito while traveling abroad. “It’s important to remember that four out of five persons who have the Zika virus experience no symptoms at all, and of those who do experience symptoms they are usually mild and recover fully,” said Gupta. “However, if you are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant around the time you will be traveling to parts of the world where Zika virus is occurring, you should consider postponing trips to those areas at this time. Other travelers should be vigilant in taking appropriate mosquito bite preventive actions such as using repellents and wearing pants and long sleeves.
Concern surrounding the Zika virus is focused on pregnant women who could have babies with microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder, where an infant’s head is significantly smaller than children of the same age. Residents who are concerned that they may be infected with the Zika virus should contact their healthcare provider if they develop the symptoms described above following a visit to an area overseas where Zika is found. Zika virus is not circulating in West Virginia.
Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. For those who become ill, the most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. As part of preparations for the State’s first case of Zika virus, BPH has been working with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal partners to monitor Zika virus testing and guidance to ensure health care providers and local health departments have the appropriate information.