WHEELING, WV — The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department and Belmont County Health Department is announcing its first case of an Ohio Valley resident being infected with the Zika virus. The mosquito-borne virus has caused the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue travel warnings for pregnant women.
The patient had traveled to a country where Zika transmission has been active and ongoing. A blood test confirmed that the patient had Zika. Both health departments encourage residents who have questions about how their travel histories might affect their risk to consult their physicians.
The health departments worked together, along with a local hospital, to collect a testing sample and submit the blood test to the CDC. The individual has since recovered.
Ohio Valley residents and other travelers to our area returning from regions with ongoing Zika transmission, such as the Caribbean and Central and South America, may have been exposed to the virus. According to the CDC, the virus chiefly is transmitted by mosquito, though there also have been reports of transmission through blood transfusion and sexual contact.
Symptoms of Zika may include fever, rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain. But the CDC has emphasized that not all people who become infected with the virus display symptoms, even throughout the course of infection that can last several days to a week. The CDC says, in fact, about only one in five people will display symptoms.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Persons who are concerned that they may have been exposed to Zika virus or who have symptoms of Zikavirus infection should talk to their healthcare provider because symptoms of illness can be caused by a number of different ailments. Because we are in the midst of flu season, we encourage Ohio Valley residents to get a flu shot.
Local county health departments will continue to rely on the best, most accurate and current information concerning this disease as presented and confirmed by the CDC and their state health departments. The CDC continues to investigate the link between Zika cases in pregnant women and infants born with microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared with those of babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that may not have developed properly.
For more information on Zika, visitthe CDC site at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html . For more information visit the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department websiteat www.ohiocountyhealth.com orcall (304) 234-3682.